CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told TheWrap Thursday that he believes Dish's new Auto Hop feature, which allows viewers to skip commercials when they watch previously aired shows, is illegal.
"They can't put our content on without commercials," he said in a brief interview at the CW's upfront presentation to advertisers. "They just can't do it. It's illegal."
Asked if the situation could lead to a lawsuit, he responded, "I don't know. I hope it doesn't come to that, but you never know."
Dish is currently being sued by AMC Networks and says it will drop the networks when their contract ends next month.
Moonves said CBS continues to discuss what to do next. Dish contends that Auto Hop merely advances past technology allowing viewers to record shows and fast forward through ads.
Moonves also criticized the feature, which Dish debuted last week, in remarks to reporters Wednesday. He echoed concerns expressed by NBC, FOX and ABC executives.
NBC broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert said at the network's upfront Monday that Auto Hop was "an insult" to the traditional model of ad supported television.
Asked if Dish could perhaps offset networks' lost ad revenue from Auto Hop by charging Dish more to run their programs, Moonves answered, "I don't know how you ever upset the apple cart like that."
Moonves added: "I think Ted Harbert said it very accurately. That's the ecosystem that we live in, you can't suddenly change that. How am I going to produce 'CSI' for $4 million without ads. I can't do that. I can't give the audience that kind of quality."
- Leslie Moonves