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Monday, June 11, 2012

Television Without Commercials?!? Say It Ain't So, Dish

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In its Complaint filed against Dish Network (“Dish”), Fox Broadcasting Company (“Fox”) (along with ABC, NBC, and CBS, all separately) alleged Dish’s new AutoHop service, which allows customers to skip television ads, violates the license granted to Dish for video-on-demand service to consumers.  According to Fox, the license to Dish was granted under certain conditions, apparently including provisions that prohibited any form of rebroadcast of Fox programming that would enable viewers to skip commercials.  

In case the Court has been living in cave for the past seventy years or so, Fox points out that commercial advertising is vital to broadcast television.  If it weren't for its advertisers, Fox would be unable to bring us the hit shows without which life would not be worth living.  

Nonetheless, Dish has recently launched its own video-on-demand service called PrimeTime Anytime that is available to top-tier Dish subscribers who lease the Hopper set top box from Dish.  PrimeTime Anytime makes available to subscribers the entire primetime broadcast schedule for all four major networks every night and commercial free.  According to Fox’s Complaint, “unlike traditional DVR, the Primetime service was specifically and deliberately designed by Dish so that Dish can record, and/or encourage and facilitate unauthorized recording of hundreds of hours of copyrighted television programs and distribute those copies in a revised format so they can be viewed commercial-free.”

In addition to the DVR-like aspects of Dish's new service, Dish will also redistribute and stream Fox’s programming over the Internet.  Fox claims that this too constitutes a violation of copyright law and Dish’s agreements with Fox.  Fox points out that this aspect of Dish's new services also constitutes unlawful competition with iTunes and Amazon who must pay for the right to offer commercial-free versions of Fox’s programming. 

Further information is available through this report on hollywoodreporter.com.

[Christina Phillips & JT]

 

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