CBS, Dish Reach Multiyear Deal, Settle AutoHop Litigation

Leslie Moonves - H 2014
AP Images

Leslie Moonves - H 2014

The satellite TV company agrees to disable AutoHop's ad-skipping functionality within the first week of a CBS show airing

CBS and Dish Network have finally come to a multiyear carriage agreement, and in the process, the two sides have put an end to a big courtroom brawl over the satcaster's ad-skipping DVR service known as AutoHop.

The two sides have negotiated for months, and after several short-term extensions, CBS programming was pulled from the satellite service on Friday night, causing millions of households in 18 markets to lose CBS-owned stations.

Dish announced that a deal had been made at 7:30 am EST on Saturday.

The deal covers CBS Sports Network, said to be one of the sources of the impasse, as well as other CBS-owned channels such as Smithsonian Channel, TVGN and Showtime. The agreement also covers retransmission consent for CBS owned stations across the country, from New York to California.

As part of the overall package, the two sides have also agreed to end the fight over AutoHop, which caused all of the major TV broadcasters to sue Dish for copyright infringement and breach of contract in May 2012.

The broadcasters contended that the system was merely an unlicensed video-on-demand service while Dish defended it as fair use. Dish won early court victories in the case, but there's always been the prospect that the negotiating table would be most important as carriage deals needed to be renewed. Dish and Disney worked out a settlement for ABC last year.

Dish appears to have made a big give, announcing that as part of the new carriage agreement the ad-skipping functionality of AutoHop won't be available for CBS-owned stations during the C7 window. (In the Dish-Disney agreement, ABC only got three days of disabled ad-skipping.)

This puts an end to CBS' amended claims in New York where it claimed that Dish fraudulently concealed facts about AutoHop during the last carriage negotiations in 2011.

However, Dish has won some important digital rights in the deal.

According to Dish, the agreement includes a path to over-the-top distribution of Showtime. The deal stops short, however, of rights for a full Internet TV service, which could bring both sides back together again in negotiations.

Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

“We are very pleased with this deal, which meets all of our economic and strategic objectives,” said Ray Hopkins, president of television networks distribution at CBS. “We look forward to having DISH as a valued partner for many years to come.”

“We are pleased to continue delivering CBS programming to our customers, while expanding their digital access to Showtime content through Showtime Anytime,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH senior vp programming.

Twitter: @eriqgardner