Cable TV operators won a key legal battleagainst Hollywood studios and television networks on Monday as theSupreme Court declined to block a new digital video recordingsystem that could make it even easier for viewers to bypasscommercials.

The justices declined to hear arguments on whether CablevisionSystems Corp.'s remote-storage DVR system would violate copyrightlaws. The end to the closely watched case allows the Bethpage,N.Y.-based company to proceed with plans to start deploying thetechnology this summer.

With remote storage, TV shows are kept on the cable operator'sservers instead of a machine inside the customer's home, as systemsoffered by TiVo Inc. and cable operators currently do.

The distinction is important because a remote system essentiallytransforms every digital set-top box in the home into a DVR,allowing customers to sign up instantly, without the need to pickup a DVR from the nearest cable office or wait for a technician tovisit.

Movie studios, TV networks and cable TV channels had argued thatthe service is more akin to video-on-demand, for which theynegotiate licensing fees with cable providers.

They claimed a remote-storage DVR service amounts to anunauthorized rebroadcast of their programs. Cablevision argued itsservice was permissible because the control of the recording andplayback was in the hands of the consumer.

Industry experts say the new technology could put digitalrecording service in nearly half of all American homes, about twicethe current number.

"This is a tremendous victory," said Tom Rutledge,Cablevision's chief operating officer, in a statement. "At thesame time, we are mindful of the potential implications for adskipping and the concerns this has raised in the programmingcommunity."

Rutledge said the technology could benefit programmers andadvertisers, besides consumers. The cable operator has launchedtargeted, interactive advertising in half a million households andplans to double that number by year's end in the New York metroarea that it serves. TiVo's DVR users already see ads when theypause or fast-forward shows.

Less clear is whether there will be savings down the road forconsumers. Remote-storage DVR saves cable operators money becausethey don't have to invest and deploy digital set-top boxes withhard drives anymore, nor would they have broken machines insidehomes to fix. Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett had estimatedthat DVRs account for as much as 10 percent to 15 percent of majorcable's capital spending.

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But whether those savings will trickle down to the consumerdepends on the level of competition, expenditures by cable todeploy the new system and other factors. Cable operators also haveto contend with bandwidth capacity, as shows will be transmitted toeach DVR viewer from their central servers, instead of individualDVRs already in the home.

Still, it's a win for cable even though most consumers won't seemuch of a change for years, in part because there are millions ofin-home DVRs already in use.

"It's clearly an important chapter in the history of digitaltelevision," said Standard & Poor's analyst Tuna Amobi. But thenew system will take "a few years to materialize. Right now thefocus is on trying to get up to speed and get this technologybeyond the test phase."

Perhaps in the next decade, remote-storage DVR would makeset-top boxes obsolete, he said.

At least, cable operators won't be hampered by the limits of aDVR hard drive. They can choose to offer more storage capacity toconsumers whenever they wish, as they respond to competition or tryto retain subscribers.

Amobi said satellite TV operators are the losers in the highcourt's decision because their systems don't let them offerremote-storage DVR. Their subscribers still have to get DVRs withhard drives and satellite TV companies have to continue to investin these boxes.

In siding with Cablevision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals overturned a lower court ruling that Cablevision, ratherthan its customers, would be making copies of programs, therebyviolating copyright laws.

The Screen Actors Guild, songwriters, music companies, MajorLeague Baseball, the National Football League and the NCAA allsided with the networks and studios in asking for high courtreview, while the Obama administration urged the court not to hearthe case.

The case is Cable News Network v. CSC Holdings Inc., 08-448.

Shares of Cablevision were up 58 cents, or 3.1 percent, to$19.44 in afternoon trading.