Fox Appeals to Stop the Hop

LOS ANGELES: Fox’s legal team wasted no time in appealing a federal judge’s decision last week to let Dish keep on skipping broadcast TV commercials. On Friday, Fox’s attorneys from Jenner and Block LLP in Los Angeles filed an appeal with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to reverse the Nov. 7 decision by Judge Dolly Gee denying an injunction against Dish for ad-skipping.

Fox, NBC and CBS are all suing Dish over the Hopper, a new set-top box that automatically skips over ads in primetime broadcast programming. In a closed decision issued last Wednesday, Judge Gee denied Fox’s request to enjoin the service until a determination could be made on the underlying charge of copyright infringement.

B&Creports that Fox claims Judge Gee indicated the skipping function to be a copyright violation, with Dish claiming the opposite. Dish is counter-suing the networks in New York on the grounds they are conspiring to deny its rights to air ads about the Hopper’s AutoHop ad-skipping function.

Along with the appeal, Fox also filed a stipulation concerning the confidentiality of Nielsen data used in the lawsuit, signed by attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defendant. Dish is being represented by attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Nielsen data could be used to quantify the impact of ad-skipping on Fox’s bottom line.

Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of ABC parent company, Disney, said in May that commercial skipping could lead to the demise of the most popular network shows because they’re bank-rolled by ad revenue, Investor Place said. (ABC is the only skipped network that hasn’t filed suit.) More recently, CBS CEO Les Moonves said the network couldn’t produce shows like “CSI” without advertising,” the Los Angeles Times said. Speaking with analysts on a conference call, Moonves reportedly said that if Dish wanted to pay CBS $5 a subscriber to use AutoHop, he might consider it.

In a separate legal development, Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS are seeking an injunction against “Aereokiller,” a service that delivers broadcast TV signals to mobile devices, The Wrap reports. Aereokiller was originally launched as, to compete with and possibly skew Aereo, the broadcast signal distributor in New York started by Barry Diller. Diller claims Aereo’s antenna design relinquishes it from having to cut retransmission deals with TV stations. TV stations in New York are suing., now Aereokiller, was started by FilmOn principle and Coca-Cola bottling heir Alki David, who also claimed retrans-exclusion based on Aereo’s legal position. Diller filed a complaint in the California court claiming constituted trademark infringement.

~ Deborah D. McAdams