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Ad-skipping loses ground: Dish settles lawsuit with Fox, agrees to 7-day AutoHop delay

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Fox and Dish have been at odds for years over several of the satellite provider’s viewing features, but at last the two have settled a copyright dispute that leaned heavily on one of Dish’s most popular features. For Dish users, this means a waiting period of seven days from Fox program’s initial broadcast to when Dish Network’s AutoHop ad-skipping can be used, according to a joint statement released Thursday from the two companies.

“Fox Networks Group and DISH Network L.L.C. have reached an agreement resulting in the dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over Slingbox technology and the AutoHop, PrimeTime Anytime and Transfers features,” reads the statement, according to Ars Technica. “As part of the settlement, DISH’s AutoHop commercial-skipping functionality will not be available for owned and affiliated FOX stations until seven days after a program first airs.”

So far, details are limited. There may be concessions on Fox’s side that will serve as a consolation for AutoHop lovers. When Dish settled a similar dispute over ABC ad-hopping, for example, the network’s parent company, Disney, ended up agreeing to offering up more content, including ESPN and Disney programming. While Disney was satisfied with a three-day delay after first broadcast, though, CBS (and now Fox) stuck to a full week. CBS played hardball and even withheld its programming from Dish subscribers in major markets before a deal was reached.

Networks have fought fiercely against technology like Dish’s AutoHop because of the threat they feel it poses to ad revenue; after all, giving viewers the power to skip commercials makes the spots less valuable to advertisers. Unfortunately, Dish is in a tough bargaining position, because as much as its customers want the technology to skip commercials, they also want the major networks’ content.

Overall, the latest settlement isn’t a flat-out win for anyone — not Dish, its subscribers, or even Fox — but that’s why they call it settling.

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