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CEA Fetes Dish's Controversial AutoHop Ad-Skipper

The Consumer Electronics Association named Dish Network’s AutoHop ad-skipping feature -- the subject of ongoing copyright-infringement litigation by major TV broadcasters -- an International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award Honoree.

The AutoHop feature lets users choose to automatically zap through commercial pods in DVR recordings of primetime TV shows on the four big broadcast networks. It’s available with Dish’s Hopper Whole Home HD DVR, introduced at the 2012 International CES.

In May, Fox, NBC and CBS filed copyright-infringement suits in California against Dish, while the satellite operator filed its own pre-emptive suit in New York claiming that programmers are stifling AutoHop.

Last week, a California District Court denied Fox's request for a preliminary injunction to force Dish to shut down AutoHop. Fox then filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking the court to block the ad-skipping function.

In June, CEA's head of government affairs, Michael Petricone, had praised AutoHop as a "pro-consumer innovation" in a House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing on “The Future of Video.”

Dish received the CEA award as part of the trade group’s annual “CES Unveiled” conference in New York City. Products in 29 categories were judged by a panel of independent designers, engineers and members of the media to recognize “outstanding design and engineering in cutting-edge consumer electronics products,” according to the CEA.

“The Hopper has been recognized in multiple reviews as the best DVR, and we thank the Consumer Electronics Association for recognizing the receiver’s AutoHop feature as a leading innovation,” Vivek Khemka, Dish’s vice president of product management, said in a statement. “AutoHop is just one of the exciting features we offer on Hopper and is an extension of what consumers already do -- skip commercials on shows they record.”

Broadcasters have lambasted the Dish feature. CBS CEO Les Moonves has repeatedly criticized AutoHop and publicly threatened to pull the broadcaster's content from Dish over the issue, while Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger has said the feature is "harmful" to the TV business.

Dish’s Hopper will be on display at The Venetian Hotel at the 2013 International CES, which runs Jan. 8-11, 2013, in Las Vegas. The CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award honoree also will be showcased at CEA’s official press event on Sunday, Jan. 6, at Mandalay Bay.