Fox network has filed what analysts believe will be the first of many TV network lawsuits against Dish Network for its new commercial-skipping feature called AutoHop. In return, Dish has countersued Fox, as well as NBC, CBS, and ABC.
"We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem," according to a Fox statement.
"Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television."
As opposed to manual fast-forwarding of time-shifted shows, AutoHop allows mass elimination of commercials of TV shows. Dish’s feature allows viewers to skip the four networks' prime-time commercials, allowing viewers to see TV shows commercial-free the next day.
In its complaint, Dish is suing "for a declaratory judgment that the AutoHop feature does not infringe any copyright." Dish says the AutoHop technology is not much different than fast-forwarding -- where, according to some research, up to 75% of the time viewers can be found fast-forwarding through TV ads.
David Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish Network, stated: “Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control… We don’t believe AutoHop will substantially change established consumer behavior, but we do believe it makes the viewing experience better."