Broadcasters sue Dish network

NBC, CBS and Fox on Thursday filed a lawsuit against satellite TV operator Dish Network to halt distribution of its "Hopper" DVR and its adapter for Slingbox streaming devices.

The device has drawn the ire of broadcasters because of a feature that allows consumers to fast-forward over commercials. While many DVRs allow consumers to skip ahead 30 seconds at a time, and while any DVR will allow consumers to fast-forward commercials, broadcasters say the feature on Dish's new device in particular undermines the traditional television advertising model and threatens to harm revenues.

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"Dish is undermining legitimate consumer choice by undercutting authorized on-demand service and by offering a service that, if not enjoined, will ultimately destroy the advertising-supported ecosystem," Fox lawyers wrote in a complaint.

In the 1984 Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios case, the Supreme Court ruled that consumers have the right to record television programs for their own use.

Fox also wants the court to halt distribution of Dish's "Sling adapter," which allows consumers who own a Slingbox device to stream their television service to another computer or mobile device.

While Slingbox has been available to consumers for years, broadcasters say Dish's distribution of the device infringes on their copyrights.

The News Corp.-owned network wants the court to order Dish to halt the sale and distribution of the devices, as well as pay attorneys fees and damages for copyright violations.

A Dish Network spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.