Analyst: RS-DVR Gives Cable an Edge


Cable could have a big advantage over satellite TV on digital video recording services, according to an analyst report last week, now that it appears the legality of Cablevision Systems' network-based Remote-Storage DVR service won't be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 29, the Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General recommended that the Supreme Court not hear an appeal filed by media companies and others seeking to overturn a ruling that the RS-DVR did not violate copyrights.

Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Craig Moffett said a network DVR could lower capital spending for cable operators and let them offer the service to all digital subscribers.

“Because network-DVR functionality is an inherently point-to-point technology, the satellite operators — who operate exclusively point-to-multipoint architectures — simply cannot match cable's network DVR capability,” Moffett wrote. “They simply cannot cost effectively offer DVRs in every room for every subscriber.”

In her brief, Solicitor General Elena Kagan noted that the companies seeking to block Cablevision's Remote Storage-DVR were not challenging the fair use of traditional DVRs and said the technical differences between the two approaches are “largely irrelevant to the determination of who would 'make' the copies.”

Cablevision may launch the RS-DVR as soon as this summer, chief operating officer Tom Rutledge said, according to a previous report from Moffett.

The Supreme Court is considering a request to review a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed a previous finding that the RS-DVR violated copyright laws.

In 2006, Turner Broadcasting System, ABC, CBS, NBC, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Disney Enterprises sued Cablevision, accusing the cable company of directly infringing their copyrights with the RS-DVR, which has never been offered to consumers.