(By Balaseshan) DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), a pay-television provider, said it filed a lawsuit in defense of its AutoHop commercial-skipping feature after threats from broadcasters. The defense suit is in response to subsequent suits filed against DISH Network by CBS, FOX and NBC.
The company has filed the defense suit with the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. The suit asks for a declaratory judgment that the AutoHop feature does not infringe any copyrights that could be claimed by the major networks.
DISH Network said the lawsuits filed by the networks essentially argue that "consumers must watch commercials". The company finds that proposition absurd and profoundly anti-consumer.
"Customers have been skipping commercials since the birth of the remote control, and the networks are arguing against that fact. Taken to the extreme, will the networks next ask consumers to stop changing channels?," said Dave Shull, DISH's senior vice president of Programming.
DISH's monthly subscriber fees include significant "retransmission fees" that DISH pays to the major networks. Although the broadcasters have made much of their content available for free using sites such as Hulu, they have continued to demand substantial increases in their retransmission fees.
In addition, three of the networks -- CBS, Fox and NBC -- have rejected ads for DISH's Hopper Whole-Home DVR, the device that features the AutoHop function.
The AutoHop, which was introduced on May 10 and is an extension of the Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime capability, allows customers to skip all commercials for most recorded primetime HD programs shown on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC when viewed the day after airing. AutoHop does not work on live broadcasts.
DISH is trading down 0.63% at $28.33 on Friday. The stock has been trading between $20.89 and $35.64 for the past 52 weeks.