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In case you missed it, a federal judge has moved the FOX, CBS and NBC lawsuit against DISH’s “AUTOHOP” to California from New York, as requested by the three networks. They assume the west coast legal system will be friendlier to them.  A similar case involving DVR’s would give DISH legal precedent in New York.

As you know, “AUTOHOP” is the service on DISH that allows subscribers to automatically skip commercials in playback programs on their DVR’s.  This looks like another new battle over who has the right to control technology and its devices.

Those of us, who can remember it, know that some of these same networks once tried to sue to stop the production and sale of videocassette recorders, claiming that recording programs was a violation of copyright laws.  They lost that one and I believe that there is a chance they may lose this one as well.

The suit brought by the networks does not address the right of the subscriber/consumer to delete advertising, but rather that DISH “…has created and marketed a product with the clear goal of breaching its license…..”

The networks are claiming that this violates copyrights and destroys the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television business.

And they may well be correct in this claim.

If DISH can get away with this, it surely will not be too long before another company will have an AUTOHOP clone on the market, opening a real Pandora’s Box for commercial TV, and drastically changing the way we media planners and buyers look at delayed viewing and pre-recorded audience numbers, when evaluating total delivery, for our clients.

On the other hand, it may be the beginning of the demise of DISH.  They have already come into conflict with AMC and other content providers and have dropped AMC from their feed.  If they win this suit, other commercial networks may also decide not to do business with DISH.

AMC has a group of very popular programs – Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Killing, to name a few. And Dish does have competition – DIRECTV……

This will be a very interesting case for all of us to follow.

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