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Cablevision Suspends Network DVR Rollout

Jun 8, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Cablevision is putting on hold its plans to roll out its network-based digital video recorder pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the legality of the proposed service.

A Cablevision spokesman said Thursday that the Bethpage, N.Y.-based cable company has agreed to suspend deployment of the network DVR as part of an agreement by both sides involved in the lawsuit to an expedited trial schedule to resolve the legality questions surrounding the network DVR product. Under the schedule mapped out by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin, a trial would begin Oct. 30, meaning the earliest Cablevision would roll out the product would be the fall.

At issue is whether Cablevision’s planned network DVR service poses a copyright infringement. The media companies that are suing Cablevision argue the planned service amounts to video-on-demand. In a counterclaim filed Wednesday in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Cablevision said the network DVR proposal is simply an evolution of the VCR and set-top box DVR currently deployed by cable and satellite operators.

Cablevision’s decision to suspend the deployment of the network DVR is the latest twist in a legal tussle that has pit the cable company against several big-name media companies and cable and broadcast networks, including News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, CBS Corp. and Time Warner’s CNN and Cartoon Network.

The network DVR works essentially the same way a traditional DVR does, Cablevision has argued, except that the recorded shows are stored on computer servers operated by Cablevision. The company hopes the technology would help reduce the expense associated with deploying DVRs in subscribers’ homes. Cablevision had planned to introduce the product in 1,000 homes on New York’s Long Island this month.