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Dish Network and Disney to kiss and makeup over Auto Hop

Dish Network may soon be free of the burden of at least one of the many legal entanglements concerning its controversial Auto Hop feature. According to Bloomberg news, unnamed sources have disclosed that Dish is close to a settlement with Disney over the issue, which could net Disney an extra half a billion dollars annually by 2015 thanks to higher re-transmission fees.

Dish Network’s Auto Hop feature is a benefit of the company’s PrimeTime AnyTime package, which allows subscribers to auto-record up to three hours of primetime programming from major networks like Fox, NBC, CBS, and Disney-owned ABC, and then watch them the next day commercial-free. Not surprisingly, the service has spurred rancor from the powerful conglomerates that own the four networks, resulting in several lawsuits, including a recent appeal from Fox that was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

The impending settlement is part of a larger contract renegotiation between Dish Network and Disney that will allow Dish access to content from Disney subsidiaries like ESPN, ABC, and the Disney Channel, after the previous agreement expired in September.

While the major networks have shown a voracious appetite for legal combat when it comes to changes in the status quo – including a battle with Aereo that has made its ascent all the way to the Supreme Court – the latest negotiation with Disney shows an unveiled glimpse of a very rudimentary solution when it comes to appeasing the big four: money.