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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Networks Fight Recorders

LOS ANGELES -- Major television and cable broadcasters formed a coalition Thursday that is threatening to sue the makers of new digital television recorders unless they pay licensing fees.

CBS Corp., The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., Time Warner Inc., and Discovery Communications Inc. said their Advanced Television Copyright Coalition aimed to protect the rights of networks and content owners in the face of the new devices.

Two companies, TiVo Inc. and Replay Networks, both privately held, are making the recorders, which resemble VCRs but use computer hard drives instead of cassette tapes to store up to 30 hours of programs. The appliances enable users to pause and restart live television, create personalized program screens that display only the shows a viewer is interested in, and fast-forward through commercials - features that have alarmed an industry reliant on advertising and promotional dollars. The broadcasters group said the "personal television" companies could insert their own commercials in place of network ones, and cited a Forrester report as saying the products could halve TV commercial viewing within 10 years.

"Broadcast and cable/satellite networks are compilations of copyrighted material protected under the Copyright Act, and those who build businesses around decompiling, excerpting or modifying them in any way must negotiate for and acquire the appropriate rights," the coalition said in a statement.

NBC is not in the coalition. In June it announced it was taking a multimillion-dollar stake in TiVo, saying the device could deliver highly targeted advertising.