TVBizwire

CBS Plays Hardball With Dish Network Over Auto Hop Device, Threatens to Pull the Network Off the Service -- and Other Nets May Follow MediaPost

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves threatened to drop the network from satellite operator Dish Network unless Dish gives up its Auto Hop ad-skipping device, MediaPost reports.

“CBS is in litigation along with other networks trying to thwart the device, but even if that proves unsuccessful, CBS could simply decline to renew a carriage deal with Dish when the current contract runs out,” the story reports. “Other networks could follow, putting Dish with its 14 million customers in a tough spot. Still, Dish has given no indication that it will pull Auto Hop, which is part of a Hopper DVR service, from the market. Auto Hop allows for automatic commercial-zapping of prime-time fare.”

Moonves told investors Wednesday: “If they want to eliminate our commercials, we will not be in business with them -- it’s pure and simple. We cannot produce an episode of a show for $3.5 million and have the people at Dish say: ‘We can pull out the commercials.’ That’s not how the ecosystem works. If they want to continue down that line, then we will just not be on Dish. That’s what will happen. We will go elsewhere, and people will take our content.”

Moonves indicated he expects the dynamics of the marketplace to ultimately kill Auto Hop, the story reports.

“Similarly, he said CBS will continue to fight Aereo, a device that offers CBS content on mobile devices in New York without compensating the network,” the report adds. “CBS and other networks are also in litigation with Aereo, but that case carries a different dynamic. If the networks lose, they can’t pull programming off Aereo, since it plucks it via over-the-air distribution.”

Moonves also dropped an unrelated nugget, suggesting that CBS might launch a general entertainment cable network, the report notes. No details were provided.

“CBS also said recently that it expects to pull in $1 billion annually via carriage fees from distributors. It recently made deals with Cablevision and AT&T and has avoided blackouts during negotiations,” the story reports.

Said Moonves: “The good news is we haven’t gone dark anywhere. It’s not that we’re not tough negotiators … people are realizing the value of our content.”

dishbillboard.JPGL.A. billboard promoting Dish's Auto Hop