Three legal actions were filed today over Dish Network’s Hopper DVR, which lets subscribers watch recorded shows without the commercials the programs included when broadcast. More suits are virtually inevitable in this quickly developing situation.

Two were filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of NBCUniversal and, separately, Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Fox Television Holdings. As the industry has been expecting, the suits accuse Dish of copyright infringement and breach of contract.

The third was filed by in federal court by Dish Network itself and names Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS. The satellite TV company is seeking”declaratory judgment on questions” related to its technology and features.

In a statement to the media, Fox said: “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. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.”

Calling Dish Network’s Auto Hop as-skipping feature an “unlawful service,” NBCUniversal issued a statement that in part read, “Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage.”

Dish Network’s Auto Hop is part of its Hopper PrimeTime Anytime service, which allows viewers to record all of the primetime TV programming on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC in HD with a single click. Users can choose to activate Auto Hop for programs they want to watch one to eight days after broadcast.

Related links:

New York Times – Dish Seeks Ruling on Feature That Skips All Commercials

Broadcasting & Cable – Fox Sues Dish Over Ad Skipping DVR

Hollywood Reporter – Fox Sues Dish Network Over Auto Hop Ad-Skipper

The Wrap – Dish Sues Networks, Fox Sues Dish Over Ad-Skipping Auto Hop



  1. I think Dish TV’s ad skipping technology is a fantastic idea. It is egregious to be paying so much for either satellite or cable TV service and then have to endure all those commercials too. It often seems as if the networks put in 7 minutes of commercials for every 9 minutes of programming. With movies it is even worse, especially as the movie is drawing to a conclusion. So many commercials you forget what the movie is about. I applaud Dish TV for implementing this technology.

    • I’m right there with you Stew. I mean, doesn’t just about everyone with a DVR skip the commercials anyway? Heck, I’ve been skipping the commercials since before DVRs existed, back in the days of the mighty VHS recorder when we had to fend off dinosaurs on our way to school. New technology has simply made it more convenient. And I’m thankful for that since I work evenings, when the networks seem to have all their best shows on, I wouldn’t be able to get much recorded with a VCR. That’s why the PrimeTime Anytime feature has been so great for me—it allows me to record everything on CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX during primetime, so it’s eliminated the scheduling conflicts I use to run into with other DVRs. That alone has made me thankful my coworker at Dish talked me into getting a Hopper. Now it’s even better because I don’t have to continually smash the Skip Forward button because Auto Hop can do it for me.

  2. Brilliant. That feature is worth buying the DVR alone! I don’t see how the networks can sue Dish for technology that effects recorded material and not the live broadcast. This technology will get out all over very soon though even if Dish has to pull it. You can’t hold back this kind of thing and all major DVR manufacturers will have it in them and consumers will buy it. Soon we will all be watching recorded tv and rarely live broadcast. The networks will have to change how they handle advertising completely.

  3. Oh I just LOVE it when big companies start losing money. Their statements are such nonsense as they angrily scream about everything wrong with a policy except the real reason…”we’re losing money!” Ha ha this makes me want Dish TV! Stew is right, I forget the plot of the movie by the time it comes back on!

  4. I don’t understand why CBS, FOX, & NBC execs don’t want us to enjoy commercial-free TV. I’m a DISH employee – AutoHop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, is taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, & NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room & DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV