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CBS claims Dish concealed AutoHop ad-skipping technology

The TV network says the satellite TV provider "deliberately failed to disclose" the AutoHop features during contract negotiations in 2011.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read
Dish's AutoHop enable screen. Dish

CBS amended its lawsuit against Dish Network today, claiming the satellite TV provider misled the network about planned ad-skipping technology during contract negotiations in 2011.

The lawsuit is part of a legal battle between Dish and the major television networks that erupted last year over "AutoHop," which allows customers to skip commercials at the touch of a button. The networks, including CBS, which is the parent company of CNET News, contend that the technology threatens to undermine an industry that depends on advertising revenue to help cover the cost of their shows.

In its amended lawsuit, CBS accused Dish of fraudulently concealing material facts related to the feature during negotiations of their Retransmission Agreement. "Dish deliberately or with reckless disregard failed to disclose" details of the planned service feature, CBS said in its 101-page filing (see below).

"Had Dish disclosed to CBS during the negotiations the material facts that it had developed AutoHop and intended to provide its subscribers with AutoHop, CBS would not have entered into the Retransmission Agreement on the terms set forth in the current agreement," CBS said.

CNET has contacted Dish and CBS for additional comment about the filing and will update this report when we learn more.

In an interview at CES earlier this month with Fox News, Dish CEO Joe Clayton said that the company had 2 million Dish Hoppers in the market.

Clayton was asked about coming to some resolution with the broadcasters over the ad-skipping technology. "Dish is partners with the broadcasters and we want good relations, but at same time we want to provide what is best for consumers, and I believe there will be a meeting of the minds at the appropriate time."

The networks filed lawsuits last May that sought to stop Dish from transmitting their programs in such a way that allows viewers to watch them without commercial interruptions, alleging copyright infringement and breach of contract.

Dish countered with its own lawsuit against the networks, claiming that the AutoHop feature doesn't infringe copyright because the technology doesn't alter the broadcast signal since the ads are not deleted from the recording.

In November, a federal judge rejected Fox Broadcasting's request for a preliminary injunction to disable the technology, which was introduced last year as part of a high-definition DVR called the Hopper.

CBS' Amended Counterclaims v. Dish Network by steven_musil