Broadcasters Fox, NBC and CBS are suing Dish Network Corp. over a service that offers commercial-free TV.
Dish, the nation's second-largest satellite TV provider, has filed a suit of its own seeking a judicial all-clear for its "AutoHop" ad-skipping technology. Dish says the unique service it launched this month doesn't violate copyrights and that it is seeing a "groundswell of support from consumers."
The fight is over a subtle but key question: Whether TV distributors can cut out commercials on consumers' behalf, or if consumers hold that power alone with their fingers on the remote.
Since May 10, Dish has been advertising a digital video recorder service called "Primetime Anytime" that gives consumers access to the last eight days of prime-time programming from the four major broadcast networks- ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox -- with the commercials stripped out.
In a suit filed Thursday in a Los Angeles federal court, News Corp.'s Fox says Dish's service is unauthorized and violates a licensing agreement between the two companies.
Fox says if the service isn't stopped, it "will ultimately destroy the advertising-supported ecosystem" that underpins TV shows.