7:23am PT by Eriq Gardner
NBC, Dish Settle Last of the Lawsuits Over Ad-Skipping DVR
The massive amount of litigation that broke out after Dish Networks introduced an advanced DVR called the AutoHop is finally over.
On Thursday, the last of the lawsuits, the one that was filed by NBC, was stipulated for dismissal. The parties have reached a settlement that will limit ad-skipping until after seven days from a show's broadcast airing.
According to a statement from an NBCU spokesperson, "NBCUniversal and DISH Network have reached an agreement resulting in the dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over the AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features."
It was back in 2012, after The Hollywood Reporter revealed looming legal action over Dish allowing users to record a week's worth of television programming without commercials, that CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC and Dish bum rushed the courthouse to try to get a jurisdictional edge. None of the disputes made it to trial, but the Fox case came closest with rulings that gave Dish a win with the opinion that what users were getting qualified as fair use but that the satcaster had potentially breached contract in a technology the broadcasters likened to an unlicensed video-on-demand service.
But litigation is slower than the term of distribution agreements in the television industry. Forced to come to the table by the expiration of carriage deals, the networks one by one addressed the Hopper (which later added place-shifting capabilities) in negotiations. The litigation between NBC and Dish was paused as CBS, NBC and Fox pushed their cases and then settled, forcing Dish to limit functionality of the Hopper.
Back in March, Dish and NBC were locked in a contentious retrans fight of their own that threatened to pull NBC-owned stations from the satellite service. Dish told the FCC it would be taking NBC to arbitration, but never actually filed an arbitration demand. Discussions presumably proceeded anyway. Now, there's been a breakthrough, though NBC is reserving comment for now only to the AutoHop settlement. As for Dish, it's more recently been locked in fights with Tribune and the NFL Network over carriage.