Gannett threatens to pull stations from Dish Network

Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) is warning that subscribers in 19 cities could lose the feeds from TV stations owned by Gannett Co. unless Dish agrees to pay increased retransmission-consent fees and disable the AutoHop commercial skipping technology on its new multiroom DVR.

The satellite TV provider's retransmission-consent agreement with Gannett expires on Sunday, and it claims the station group owner is demanding a 300 percent increase in fees. Gannett airs programming from ABC, CBS and NBC on stations in Denver, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Buffalo, N.Y., and several other cities.

Dish began marketing its Hopper DVR earlier this year. It contains an AutoHop function that, when activated by a subscriber, automatically removes all commercials from primetime programming stored on the DVR from the Big Four broadcast networks.

CBS Corp. President Leslie Moonves has also threatened to pulled the company's owned-and-operated TV stations in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets from Dish unless it agrees to disable the AutoHop function. "Hopper cannot exist," Moonves said in August at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference. "We cannot produce episodes for $3.5 million apiece and have the people at Dish say they will pull out the commercials. We will not be on Dish. We will go elsewhere," he added.

CBS, Fox, PBS and other broadcasters are also waging a federal copyright lawsuit aimed at forcing Dish to kill Hopper.

For more:
- Reuters has this story

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