DISH Network Wants to Nix Reconsideration Motion in City’s Suit Against Online Video Streaming Platforms

DISH Network has reversed course in its effort to send a state law fee dispute case back to Illinois state court, where it was originally filed. The motion is now moot, DISH said, pointing to a development in the state court case.

The controversy concerns fees that the Village of Shiloh claims that DISH as well as Netflix Inc., Hulu LLC, Disney DTC LLC, and DIRECTV LLC owe it under the Illinois Cable and Video Competition Law of 2007. The plaintiff says that the streaming platforms offer video service within the meaning of the law, like traditional cable television service providers. As such, Shiloh claims they must pay right-of-way usage fees for their utilization of local equipment located in public thoroughfares.

Before reaching the merits of the case, the federal court overseeing it ruled that principles of comity required remand to state court. In particular, the judge said that the defendants inappropriately asked for the federal court’s judgment on matters affecting local revenue over which Illinois and its municipalities “enjoy wide regulatory latitude.”

DISH moved for reconsideration of the decision, pointing to the existence of another federal case filed by a different Illinois city. DISH argued that remand would result in duplicative state and federal litigation as the earlier filed case, styled City of East St. Louis v. Netflix Inc., et al., is ongoing in the same federal district.

Shiloh countered that DISH was not entitled to a “do-over” and supported the court’s opinion as well-reasoned.

In its request to withdraw the reconsideration motion this week, DISH said the federal court correctly predicted that the state court would agree to stay the case once remanded. Indeed, DISH says the state court judge paused proceedings at the defendants’ request. “Accordingly, the risk of duplicative litigation has been avoided, and DISH’s amended motion to reconsider has become moot.”  

In East St. Louis’ case, the defendants’ motion to dismiss is pending. The suit also names the online video content streaming arms of Amazon, Apple, CBS (Peacock), and Google (YouTube) as defendants.  

The Village of Shiloh is represented by Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd. DISH is represented by Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP, and Armstrong Teasdale LLP.