The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals may have nixed Fox again today in its efforts to shut down Dish Network’s ad-zapping DVR service, but the network still sees victory down the line. “We are disappointed in the decision but recognize that preliminary injunctions are rarely overturned on appeal,” said a Fox Networks Group spokesperson after the court today unanimously rejected Fox’s petition of last August. “That said, the ruling was based on a factual record from more than a year ago. Now that we have gathered more evidence, we are confident that we will ultimately prevail on all of our claims.” The case goes on in trial court. In the meantime, Dish, which has had a good run with the courts on the Hopper issue of late, once again wrapped itself in the flag of standing up for consumers. “With this decision, the Court continues to reject Fox’s efforts to deny our customers’ access to PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop — key features of the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR,” the satcaster’s General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge said of one of the many broadcaster suits against his company. “This is a victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.”
First it was New York, then later Boston and today a new battlefield opened in the legal war between the Barry Diller-backed streaming service and broadcasters. Less than two months after its debut in Utah, Fox Broadcasting along with local stations KSTU-TV, KUTV-TV and KMYU-TV filed a copyright infringement suit (read it here) against Aereo in federal court to get the service shut down. The new jury-demanding suit seeks a preliminary injunction against Aereo and it wants unspecified statutory damages, as well as legal fees and whatever else the court will give the plaintiffs. Launched in NYC last year and already in several other cities across the nation, the much-sued Aereo premiered in Utah on August 19. “Aereo has not been authorized by any of the Plaintiffs to retransmit their copyrighted programming. Even though Aereo is in the business of selling access to the programming broadcast on KSTU, KUTV, KMYU, and other local stations, it pays nothing to the copyright owners. Legitimate retransmission services like cable and satellite companies, in contrast, obtain licenses to retransmit broadcast signals to their subscribers,” says the three-count 16-page filing.
For the second time in less than a week, Dish Network is claiming legal victory against one of the big broadcasters. On September 18th, it was ABC, today it’s Fox. A federal judge Monday spared the satellite provider the preliminary injunction requested by Fox against its ad-jumping Hopper DVR services. As has become the norm in the various Hopper cases, the ruling by Judge Dolly M. Gee was filed under seal for the time being so confidential and proprietary info could be stripped out. While Gee denied the injunction she did indicate to the parties’ lawyers that she believed Fox’s case had merit and could be compensated with damages rather than agreeing to the broadcaster’s motion. “We disagree that the harms caused by Dish’s infringing services are completely compensable by damages, and as a result we are looking at all options. We will file a response in due course,” a Fox spokesperson told me. Dish took a much less nuanced approach in responding to Monday’s decision. “Today’s decision is the fourth in a string of victories for consumers related to our Hopper® Whole-Home DVR platform. DISH is pleased that the Court has sided again with consumer choice and control by rejecting Fox’s efforts to deny our customers’ access to the DISH Anywhere and Hopper Transfers features. We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ right to choice and control over their viewing experience,” said Dish’s EVP and general counsel R. Stanton Dodge in a statement Monday. Today’s ruling comes from a hearing on the matter held back on April 19th.
UPDATE, 7:11PM Today: News Corp’s board this evening unanimously approved the proposed plan to split the media conglomerate into two separate companies, one focused on its entertainment businesses and the other its publishing, the Wall Street Journal reports. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch spoke at the board meeting that lasted about 90 minutes, according to a sourced cited by the Journal. Details including who will run the publishing business have not yet been decided. News Corp is expected to announce the split formally tomorrow morning. 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Co. and its TV stations, plus Fox News Channel and other cable networks and News Corp’s considerable global satellite businesses would be part of the entertainment company. Publishing businesses including The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and the HarperCollins book imprints would fall under the publishing umbrella. News Corp’s Australian newspaper businesses and the company’s News International operations are also publishing companies but the Journal did not elaborate on management structure.
BALTIMORE, May 15, 2012 — Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: SBGI), announced today that it has entered into an agreement with the Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) for the renewal of the affiliation agreements for 19 television stations Sinclair owns and/or programs. The new agreements go into effect January 1, 2013 upon the expiration of the existing affiliation agreements and expire December 31, 2017. KFXA-TV, the FOX affiliate in Cedar Rapids, to which Sinclair provides certain non-programming related services, is also renewing its affiliation agreement for the same term.
You wouldn’t know that the Hulu auction was a failure based on the way News Corp COO Chase Carey describes the owners’ plans. They decided to hang on to the digital video service because its value to them “dwarfed some of the values that were being put on it” by bidders including Dish Network and Google. Keeping Hulu reflects “a judgment that this digital space is incredibly important and is going to be, over the next five years and beyond, the most important field we have to navigate.” As a result, he told the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, “we’ll do what’s necessary to make it grow.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean adding movies to the package to make it more competitive with Netflix. ”Me-toos aren’t a great place to be in this business,” Carey says. “We want to look at it with a fresh eye.”
Investors strangely seemed uninterested in the News Of The World hacking scandal. But one of the consequences — News Corp’s decision to abandon its effort to buy BSkyB — was a concern. Carey says that it’s “one of the things we have to figure out” because he says the company gets ”a fraction of credit” it believes it deserves for its 39% stake in the UK media company. News Corp must ”do a better job communicating value.” Still, he didn’t leave investors empty-handed: Carey says that News Corp’s recently launched round of share repurchases is “certainly not a one-time thing. It’s an important part of our capital allocation,” he said, adding that News Corp shares are ”woefully undervalued.”
News Corp COO Chase Carey: “Nothing We’ve Seen” To Support Allegations That 9/11 Family Phones Were Hacked
News Corp COO Chase Carey bobbed and weaved today when audience members at the Goldman Sachs Commmunicopia Conference asked questions that touched on the company’s hacking and police bribery scandals. “The media noise has been surreal around it,” he says. “The truth will come out. The issues will work their way out.” He did note that there’s “nothing we’ve seen” to support the allegation — which the Justice Department is investigating — that News of the World may have hacked phones of families of 9/11 victims. Carey wouldn’t rule out the possibility that News Corp might renew its effort to buy the 61% of BSkyB that it doesn’t already own. “We’ll continue to be a shareholder. … We have a lot of flexibility if and when something arises.” He added that he’s “not going to get into speculating” about whether UK officials might force News Corp to give up its current shares in the satellite power. As for the newspaper publishing business — which a lot of investors would like to see News Corp dump – Carey says the company should “take a fresh look at it.” But that could involve expanding operations such as Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. “There are things beyond (putting them on iPads) that we can do.”
Fox Restricts Online Access To New Shows; For 8 Days Only Customers Of An Authorized Service Can See Them
LOS ANGELES – Fox Networks and Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) today announced that beginning August 15, video distributors that participate in the company’s online authentication service will have an exclusive 8-day window for new episodes of FOX programs. To watch new episodes of FOX shows the next day, viewers can visit Fox.com, Hulu.com, Dishonline.com or the online TV portals of any future participating distributors and log in with their subscriber usernames and passwords. Viewers who do not subscribe to a participating distributor will be able to watch new episodes online eight days following their initial air dates.
DISH Network will be the first to offer this service, allowing their verified subscribers to take advantage of the exclusive window and view new episodes of FOX shows the day after they air on broadcast television.
Fox Broadcasting Co. and the New York Television Festival today announced the fourth annual FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest for aspiring television writers who can enter their original half-hour comedy TV scripts for the opportunity to win $25,000 and a development deal with Fox. The opening date for script submissions is Monday, April 4. “The future of our industry lies in the stories that we tell, so it’s incredibly important that we continue to find and nurture undiscovered writing talent,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said.