New version of Dish's Hopper DVR likely to rile broadcasters

Mon Jan 7, 2013 7:52pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Satellite television provider Dish unveiled on Monday the latest version of its controversial digital video recording device, dubbed the Hopper, with new features such as the ability to stream live TV and recorded programs outside the home.

Already embroiled in a legal battle with all the major broadcast networks over the DVR's first iteration, Dish could engender a new round of lawsuits with its updated version, which it is calling "Hopper with Sling."

Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the updated Hopper uses "sling" technology that redirects a live or recorded TV signal from the set-top box to Internet-connected devices. That means that Dish subscribers with the new version can watch live TV wherever their mobile device or computer has Internet access.

The updated Hopper also features an app that allows customers to transfer saved TV programs to an Apple iPad so they can access shows on planes, subways or other areas where Internet access is unavailable. Such a transfer can only occur once.

Vivek Khemka, vice president of product management at Dish, said that the updated Hopper falls within "fair use policy" and does not violate copyrights.

"We believe this is consumer initiated. The consumer is choosing to watch their content, so it's well within the fair use policy," Khemka said.

But a source familiar with programming deals, who asked not to be named, said Dish may be violating contracts with media companies by offering Internet streaming of TV outside the home.

"The definitions are really tight and primarily talk about residential use and define the delivery technology," the source said about programming contracts.   Continued...