Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, T.G.I.F. edition.
Fox Broadcasting Co., already hopping-mad about the ad-zapping feature in Dish Network Corp.'s Hopper HD-DVR, is now going after a new feature in a second-generation of the device that lets users sling live and recorded video via the Internet and side-load DVR-recorded content onto tablets and PCs. Fox is seeking a preliminary injunction in a federal court in L.A., alleging that the features violate its license deal with Dish and infringe on Fox's copyrights, notes Bloomberg . "Paying Dish for a satellite television subscription does not buy anyone the right to receive Fox’s live broadcast signal over the Internet or to make copies of Fox programs to watch 'on the go,' because Dish does not have the right to offer these services to its subscribers in the first place," Fox claims. Dish has not yet responded to this latest salvo. (See Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper and Dish Slings Its Latest Hopper DVR.)
It could be a big deal, though. So far, Sling Media Inc.'s place-shifting technology (now part of Dish's corporate cousin EchoStar Corp. LLC) has avoided any legal entanglements. As an important distinction, Fox's suit does not target Sling's retail products, but a device that is being distributed by a pay-TV operator. Some similar devices have come on the scene, including Comcast Corp.'s Motorola Mobility LLC-made AnyPlay device and the TiVo Inc. Stream, but those products don't let users place-shift TV programming beyond the reach of the customer's home Wi-Fi signal. An industry source says AnyPlay could ship video out-of-the-home via a firmware upgrade, but it's unlikely that Comcast would activate such a feature without consent from its programming partners. Monsoon Multimedia Inc., a target of a Sling Media lawsuit, is trying to get around that issue by letting operators determine which networks can be delivered out-of-home. (See Sling Media Opens the TiVo Playbook, Monsoon Pitches MSO-Manages TV Place-Shifting and Why Is Sling Getting a Free Pass? )
Charter Communications Inc. posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $40 million, narrowed from $67 million, on revenues of $1.91 billion, up 4.3 percent. Charter lost 36,000 video subs, versus a year-ago loss of 44,000, giving it a total of 3.98 million. It added 54,000 high-speed Internet subs (vs. +68,000), giving Charter 3.79 million, and signed on 34,000 voice customers (vs. +27,000) for a grand total of 1.91 million. Charter's in the process of adding more than 300,000 video subs to the pot via its proposed $1.6 billion acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp. properties in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. (See Charter Plunks Down $16B for Optimum West.)