AutoHop court battle between Dish and Fox gains new life amid retrans impasse

A 10-month stay has been expired in 21st Century Fox's court battle with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) over the AutoHop DVR feature. The expiration of the stay comes as the two sides continue to struggle to come to terms on a new retransmission licensing deal for the Fox Broadcasting Network.

Fox and Dish requested the stay in January, noting that "it is highly likely that the negotiation later this year of a renewal of their 2010 agreement will result in resolution of this lawsuit."

There was reason for optimism. Not only had the two sides just settled a carriage dispute involving Fox News, but CBS, NBC and ABC -- which had previously litigated alongside Fox over AutoHop -- had each settled their beef with Dish during their respective retransmission renewal deals.

But on Thursday, a federal judge lifted the expired stay, and indicated there was no reason to extend it, with Fox and Dish failing to come to terms on a renewal for a retrans deal that will expire later this year.

The lawsuit is still in effect. Both parties will submit a proposed trial schedule on October 9.

The lawsuit will further complicate already heated retransmission talks. With the FCC on the cusp of making major changes to laws governing retrans negotiations, broadcasters are drawing a hard line in renewal talks, anxious to get the best possible terms in under the wire.

Dish won some key early rounds against Fox in the case involving an AutoHop feature that automatically skips through broadcast TV commercials. However, January's stay came as a judge released a summary judgement in the case. That decision was sealed pending outcome of the retrans negotiations. 

A Dish representative had no comment for FierceCable

For more:
- read this Hollywood Reporter story

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