Dish ‘Autohop’ trial arguments

Charlie Ergen is currently involved in – at least – two bouts of serious litigation. There’s the Cablevision/VOOM case, which restarts on September 24th in New York, and 3,000 miles away in a Los Angeles courtroom Dish Network is defending its ‘Autohop’ ad-skipping service against an application for an injunction from Fox Television.

Fox Television is seeking an injunction to see at least some of Autohop’s functionality disabled. Judge Dolly Gee on Friday September 21st heard arguments from Fox’s lawyers saying that Dish was infringing its copyrights and retransmission agreements. CBS and NBC have made similar complaints.

Dish, in its submission, say that only 46 per cent of its 14 million pay-TV subscribers use its Dish PrimeTime Anytime system, and just 3 per cent use Autohop.

Fox says it is worried that because of Autohop its advertising revenue is under threat. Fox stresses that Dish’s retransmission agreement with Fox is tightly written and that Dish is obliged to show the complete telecast, including commercials. “PrimeTime Anytime still breaches the parties’ contracts and infringes Fox’s copyrights on a massive scale, night after night,” said Fox’s submission to the court.

Dish countered by arguing that you cannot compel viewers to watch commercials.

Judge Gee expressed the view that granting Fox an injunction would be invasive to consumers if Dish were to be obliged to dismantle set-top boxes and other equipment. The judge will announce her decision shortly.

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