Fox Argues in Court to Try to Stop Dish’s Ad-Skipping Service; Judge Says He Records Shows Himself

Jun 5, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Arguing that Dish’s AutoHop ad-skipping service threatens the television business model, Fox Broadcasting Co. asked a federal appeals court to halt the service. Bloomberg’s Businessweek reports that the network went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to try to overturn a decision by a district judge that enabled the service to move forward.

“Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime allows subscribers to automatically record the entire prime-time lineup of all four major broadcast networks every night,” the story reports. “It’s similar to a video-on-demand service, which Dish can only provide under its contract if it doesn’t allow viewers to fast-forward through commercials, Paul Smith, a lawyer for Fox, argued [Tuesday] to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals at a hearing in Pasadena, California.”

The report continues: “Instead of disabling fast-forwarding through the ads, the AutoHop service allows subscribers to skip them entirely when they watch the recorded shows, Smith said. Fox alleges that the Dish services breach their license agreement and undermine Fox’s business selling shows online through Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.”

Smith told the court: “This is an unlicensed service that competes with a licensed service that we get paid for.”

The report adds: “Fox alleges the AutoHop service threatens the ad-supported television model because it diminishes the value of commercials, which are the main source of financing for primetime programming. The ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliate associations, as well as the National Association of Broadcasters, filed arguments in support of Fox’s appeal.”

Fox’s argument was rejected in 2012 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who “ruled that the Dish service was more akin to digital-video recording than to a video-on-demand service because the subscriber decides to enable PrimeTime Anytime,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher, who said he records ‘Masterpiece Theater’ and Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show,’ asked Smith to explain how this practice of creating a library of television shows to watch at some later time is any different from what Fox accuses Dish of doing.”

The judge told the attorney: “I do exactly what you’re complaining about.”

“Smith said it’s a fundamentally different process when a viewer decides what to record as opposed to a service that automatically records blocks of programs every night,” the report adds.

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