Dish to TV nets: We pay you, so our customers can skip your ads

Kangaroos-and-Ergen

This media litigation is so hot, you need a multituner DVR to follow all of the action. (Just don’t skip the ads.)

On Friday, NBCUniversal and CBS Corp. filed separate federal lawsuits against Dish Network. They joined Fox, which filed its own suit against the satellite TV service provider Thursday, in claiming Dish’s new “AutoHop” digital video recorder feature infringes on their copyrights by deleting their commercials.

Also read: Dish’s “Auto Hop” ad-skipping device in legal showdown with networks

However, with broadcasters loudly signaling their unease with Dish’s new product offering over past few weeks, and litigation widely viewed as a foregone conclusion, perhaps the more interesting development Friday was the public response issued by David Shull, senior VP of programming for Englewood, Co.-based Dish.

Noting that Dish had actually sued the Big Four broadcast networks first, Shull labeled broadcasters’ legal challenges as “absurd and profoundly anti-consumer.”

With networks charging pay TV operators like Dish — and by extension, its subscribers — millions of dollars to re-transmit their signals, Shull noted, “customers deserve to use content they pay for as they wish.”

Shull also said that AutoHop needs to be “put in perspective” — most of Dish’s viewers watch shows either live or the same night they’re recorded, he explained, and the feature only extends to recordings viewed the day after broadcast and must be enabled by the customer in order to work.

And besides, he added, “Customers have been skipping commercials since the birth of the remote control.”

It is here where Dish seems to have a lot of outside support.

Noting that consumers have been trained for over a decade to avoid advertising, noted media technology analyst Richard Greenfield on Friday posted a blog calling for media companies to “innovate, not litigate.”

As Greenfield noted, most DVRs leased to consumers by pay TV providers already have robust commercial-skipping capabilities.

Fair use advocate Public Knowledge also weighed in, with organization president and CEO¬†Gigi B. Sohn arguing in a statement, “Consumers have the right to control their TV watching, using whatever technology is available to them.”

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