Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.
Dish Network Corp. is close to releasing an over-the-air (OTA) TV module that's compatible with its new Hopper HD-DVR. The move would give Dish a tactical weapon it can wield against broadcasters as the sides fight in court about AutoHop, a Hopper feature that lets users skip commercials in recorded TV shows. Among the broadcasters, CBS has threatened to pull its signal if Dish continues to support the ad-zapping feature, so an OTA module would appear at least to give Dish some negotiation leverage. SatelliteGuys got an early look at the module, noting that they were able to pick up about 30 digital TV stations with it, but that some of the guide data for OTA channels were "spotty at best." SatelliteGuys adds that the module is set to sell for $30. Dish has some basic info posted about the product here. We've asked Dish to confirm pricing and when it expects to start selling the OTA module to Hopper customers. (See Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper and Dish Sticks It to the Broadcasters .)
Update: A Dish spokesman confirmed that the OTA tuner does sell for $30 and can be purchased at MyDish.com. He added that the necessary software to operate the module should have already been pushed to Hopper receivers. Customers will still have to purchase exterior or interior digital OTA antennas on their own to complete the set-up.
Here's an illustration of how the module connects with the Hopper via a USB interface:
Sky Angel has hit C-SPAN with an antitrust suit, claiming that the MSO-backed programmer withdrew programming in 2009 after the Naples, Fla.-based company began to deliver subscription TV services over broadband. Sky Angel, which runs an over-the-top service called FAVE-TV, has already filed a program-access complaint against Discovery Communications Inc. Sky Angel is asking for an injunction that would give it access to C-SPAN for ten years.
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