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Dish, Broadcasters Argue over Venue for Trial

By William Launder The court venue for a legal battle between Dish Network Corp. (DISH) and major broadcasters over Dish's new ad-skipping technology will be determined within the next week, a New York District Court judge said Monday evening. In a hearing before Judge Laura Taylor Swain, an attorney for Dish argued for litigation to proceed in a New York courtroom. Dish has requested a New York venue on grounds that several of its key contracts with broadcasters are governed by New York state law. Meanwhile, attorneys representing broadcasters argued to litigate in Los Angeles. Rather than rule on a venue from the bench, Judge Swain said she would consider the parties' arguments and aim to decide within a week. Judge Swain further said she was upholding a previously issued temporary restraining order, which bars Fox from pursuing the lawsuit it filed May 24 against DISH in California until further ruling. The legal battle centers on Dish's recently introduced "Hopper" box top, which includes a feature allowing viewers to bypass commercials that have been previously recorded digitally. Dish has sued the four major broadcast networks--News Corp.'s (NWS, NWSA, NWS.AU) Fox Network, CBS Corp.'s (CBS, CBSA) CBS, Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) ABC and Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA, CMCSK) NBC--seeking a "declaratory judgment" that its "Auto-hop" feature doesn't infringe copyright law. Fox, ABC and NBC, meanwhile, have filed separate lawsuits against Dish alleging that the service infringes copyright law. Broadcast executives have harshly dismissed the device as an attempt to undermine TV's traditional advertising business. News Corp. also owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of this newswire and The Wall Street Journal. Write to William Launder at william.launder@dowjones.com

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