Network Execs Blast Dish's Ad Zapper
(May 15, 2012)
NBC and Fox network
executives yesterday blasted Dish Network's new 'Auto Hop'
commercial zapper, saying it's an "insult" and an "attack."
The feature, which was added last
week to Dish's new Hopper HD DVR, allows viewers to watch the
playback of a network show without ever seeing the commercials.
(Auto Hop works with the set-top's 'PrimeTime Anytime' network
recordings. The Hopper automatically records all primetime shows
on ABC, Fox, NBC and CBS.)
Unlike the Fast Forward button on a DVR, Auto Hop automatically
removes the commercial without the viewer doing a thing.
"I think this is an attack on our ecosystem," NBC Chairman Ted
Harbert told reporters yesterday at an NBC promotional event in
New York. Harbert added that it was an "insult to our joint
investment in programming."
Peter Rice, chairman of the Fox Entertainment Group, also had
harsh words for Dish enabling the Ad Hop, saying "it seems to be
a strange thing (for Dish) to do," writes the Los Angeles Times.
However, the executives stopped short of saying that they would
sue Dish for installing the Ad Hop on Hopper HD DVRs. The
hesitation may be industry disagreement over whether the suit
would be successful. DVR pioneer ReplayTV offered a similar
ad-skipping feature more than a decade ago and the networks
sued. But the case failed to get a final adjudication because
ReplayTV went out of business.
Now the ad-skipping controversy is back and Dish, headed by the
highly litigious Charlie Ergen, would be a more formidable
opponent than ReplayTV.
There's also the possibility
last week that Dish is merely using the Auto Hop as leverage in
future carriage negotiations with the networks. The satcaster
could offer to remove the ad-skipping feature in return for
lesser fees to carry the networks.
The 'retransmission' disputes between TV providers and
programmers has gotten increasingly testy in the last few years
due largely to the programmers demanding more money to carry
their channels. ______________________________________________________________________________