TV Network Execs Contemplate Going To Court To Say Skipping Commercials Is Illegal

from the that-won't-go-over-well dept

Late last week Charlie Ergen and the folks at Dish Networks presented the TV networks with a bit of a conundrum. You see, the company decided to actually give consumers what they want: setting up a special DVR system, called Auto Hop, that would let viewers not just automatically DVR the entire primetime lineup of all the major networks with the single push of a button — but also to automatically skip commercials when watching the playback, as long as it wasn’t the same day the shows aired. This is something that consumers clearly want — which Dish execs were pretty upfront about:

“Viewers love to skip commercials,” Vivek Khemka, vice president of DISH Product Management, said in a statement

But, of course, who is a consumer in this market gets complicated pretty fast. The TV networks, of course, make a fair bit of money from advertising on these shows, and they’re not happy about any idea that means people might skip commercials. Those of you who have been around for a bit may recall a few relevant stories. First, there was Jamie Kellner, the former chair of Turner Broadcast Systems, who once claimed that walking away from your TV while commercials aired was a form of theft. Then, of course, there was the famous ReplayTV case. If you don’t recall, ReplayTV was an early competitor to TiVo, and in many regards a better product. Among its features, it took an already considered legal feature from VCRs called “commercial skip” and added it to DVRs. The industry sued, in large part because of this feature, which they considered to be breaking the law.

Of course, the expense of the lawsuit resulted in Replay’s parent company SonicBlue declaring bankruptcy. It then sold off the remains to D&M, who tried relaunching a version of the product without all the cool features people liked, and it went nowhere. Eventually, DirecTV bought the remnants. However, the basic lawsuit died out with the bankruptcy. A bunch of ReplayTV users, led by Craig Newmark from Craigslist, actually tried to continue the case on their own, to have those features declared legal, but after the networks promised not to sue those users for using the features, the judge tossed the case.

Left unresolved, of course, is whether or not features like commercial skip are actually legal.

As some are pointing out, the TV networks may have missed a golden opportunity by not continuing the fight against Craig and the other users, since they wouldn’t be able to afford the bigtime lawyers that Ergen and Dish can easily toss out here. So the TV networks basically have to make the decision if this is really a battle worth fighting.

It does seem clear that the anti-consumer folks who run the TV networks would certainly like to slap Dish around for this move:

“I think this is an attack on our eco-system,” said NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert on a conference call Monday. “I’m not for it.”

Isn’t it just like NBC to think that a tool that the public actually finds useful is an “attack” on their ecosystem? At some point, in the way, way distant future, perhaps we’ll live in an age where companies like NBC Universal recognize that, when things are more efficient and easier for consumers, it is a good thing, rather than something to freak out about and declare evil?

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Companies: dish networks, nbc, replaytv, sonicblue, tivo, turner broadcast systems

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Comments on “TV Network Execs Contemplate Going To Court To Say Skipping Commercials Is Illegal”

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Anonymous Coward says:

TV executives, like Newspaper and other publishers, fear one thing the most. That companies who advertise realize just how overpriced their ‘ad space’ really is. And how factually impossible it is to measure the success of it. Its ironic that internet advertisement, which has a far better reach, and a much better way to see the effects of ads in real time, are considered cheap by comparison. Just goes to show you how the legacy entertainment is nothing more then a scam, relying on outright lying to companies to get their money.

Difster (profile) says:

Next up...

You will be required by law to watch a certain amount of network programming along with the commercials of course.

If you choose not to purchase a cable or satellite tv package, you will be penalized by the IRS.

How much programming you watch will be determined by an always active iris scanner that works closely with the Microsoft Kinect system which you will also be required to purchase.

Anonymous Coward says:

What law is being broken when I go take a whiz during the commercial break?

I pay for cable. Extra for on-demand services. More for HD. More for internet…how many times am I supposed to pay these fuckers for the same damn thing?!

Seriously – what law is being broken by skipping commercials?! Is it imaginary law? I think it’s imaginary law.

TasMot (profile) says:

It's all about the Double Dipping

The TV execs really like that they get paid by the advertisers to put on the advertisements (you know the ones you don’t watch for the 4000th time when you walk away to go get a snack) and they like it when DISH or the cable company pays them again to re-broadcast it. They just don’t want to give up the double dip. If I pay DISH to see the show, why to I have to “pay” again by watching the commercials. They are getting paid, they just want to get paid twice. What a great business plan, get paid (at least) twice for the exact same content. How do I get in on that scam?

Anonymous Coward says:

Does it make me a criminal then if I decide to boycott all the commercials I see out of annoyance? I’m costing those companies money after all if I buy my mustard from someone else who doesn’t advertise on TV. They won’t keep buying up ads if viewers just buy their competitors products that don’t have to mark up their prices to pay for expensive TV ads.

Also, it’s cases like this that make me wonder if the pro-IP people are TRYING to burn all their bridges and screw themselves over long term by destroying any good will people may have towards them?

Another AC says:

NBC / Comcast

Doesn’t comcast own NBC?

Comcast makes a TON of money on the DVR boxes and charge for the DVR service, and now an NBC exec comes out and criticizes skipping commercials?

Seems to me comcast could easily restrict the fast forward function of the DVR.

Of course they might lose some customers, but they could solve a big part of their own problem without legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

I had exactly the same thought as TasMot. I found him here ahead of me with the double dip.

Remember The Weather Channel? A place you could get the weather all the time without commercials? Somewhere along the line that changed. It became a bundled broadcast along with commercials.

All the broadcasters want you to buy into the idea that without commercials, it’s gonna cost you more. Yet no one but the broadcasters like commercials. Like Anonymous Coward posted, I haven’t seen a commercial on the net in years. Not planning on seeing them either.

With the problems that show up from time to time with Google Adsense, with infected iFrames passing out malware, it’s as much a matter of personal computer safety as it is eliminating annoyances.

Despite all the pitches to sell the commercial as a necessary and needful thing, people flat out don’t like them. They are as bad as spam; a pest industry.

Thank you but no thank you. Commercials and ads are something I will joyfully pass up.

DannyB (profile) says:


Funny thing is, the more this kind of crap takes over TV, the less I watch.

Real quality TV with science or education, or an actual plot, or good documentary, or hard news without talking heads, or anything that makes you think is getting pretty hard to find.

They want advertising dollars. But they seem to want, or maybe their advertisers seem to want only the eyeballs of the stupidest part of the population.

Give us real news like Cynthia Torqueman of Interstellar Network News (ISN). 🙁

Robert (profile) says:



Are you telling me that making skipping of commercials illegal is indicative of loss of intelligence for our species, to the point where you’d like to leave?

What about pollution? What about our governments or corporate greed or basic lack of humanity and respect for one another, let alone other species or the planet in general?

There’s so much to be embarrassed about with regards to the things humans have and continue to do, we should have built that ship and left a LONG LONG time ago!

“Everybody knows, that the world is full of stupid people, so meet me at the mission at midnight..”

John Fenderson (profile) says:


All the broadcasters want you to buy into the idea that without commercials, it’s gonna cost you more.

The funny thing is that one of the main reasons that I rarely watch TV (and don’t subscribe to cable TV at all) is the commercials. For many shows, I would gladly pay a reasonable fee to watch them if commercials were omitted. Oh wait, I already do: it’s called Netflix.

Anonymous Coward says:


Nah, see I’m shifting the first part of the show to where I want it, then when the commercial break starts, I’ll shift the next part of the show foward to that moment. I’ll shift all the commercials till the end… well actually I probably want to watch another episode then. I’ll shift the commercials a bit later…

Plenty of time to watch commercials when I’m dead.

Anonymous Coward says:


Nah, see I’m shifting the first part of the show to where I want it, then when the commercial break starts, I’ll shift the next part of the show foward to that moment. I’ll shift all the commercials till the end… well actually I probably want to watch another episode then. I’ll shift the commercials a bit later…

Plenty of time to watch commercials when I’m dead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once upon a time...

Television was free and paid for by the advertising. You couldn’t skip the ads let alone record a show to watch it later. That was the price of that content, the ads. Those ads paid for the shows creation and the studio cost and even the provider costs. Ad revenue hasn’t gone down over the years at all. It’s grown just as everything else has and in most cases its skyrocketed.

These days you pay a provider to bring you what used to be free content. Not only that but you still end up having to put up with MORE ads per content volume than you ever used to! So now the system is paid from both sides; companies paying for ads and consumers paying for content. Isn’t it wonderful to have a system like that? NOT! There are of course workarounds but they’re not generally consumer friendly and the system tries to shut them down / make them more difficult to implement so that there isn’t an “out” that one can actually use.

As a consumer if I cannot skip the ads in shows I’m actually paying money to see every month then I’ll simply stop paying for that content. The advertisers lose out AND the providers lose out AND the content creators lose out. On the other hand I end up with extra cash in my wallet to go buy a few movies or a series which I can then rip to my media PC conveniently without ANY commercials or ads. That puts cash back into the pockets of the creators while still leaving the advertisers and providers out.

It may be old school relatively speaking but if that’s what they want to drive their own market to I don’t have an issue with it at all. After all, does anyone really like ad garbage? And hey, if that is suddenly illegal as well then why bother with their content at all? Get outside, pick up a new hobby, learn a language, start gardening, do something more productive than sitting in front of the idiot box. *shrug*

Anonymous Coward says:

Just to clarify....

Comcast lets you skip ahead at 5x speed… simply skipping the commercials entirely isn’t really all that different. This whole issue is splitting hairs. If they manage to make it illegal then they’ll start pushing from that side until eventually you won’t have any control at all. Just wait!

Whatduno says:

I suspect the future of ads will be ads that are written into the scripts of the shows you’re watching, like on “Bones” where a character will go on and on AND ON about how great his car is, in a way that no actual human being ever would. They even worked it into the script as a major plot-point; the character driving was showing the passenger in the car how the car had “drift control”, drifting over the line on purpose and then turning it on, and a cop pulled them over and tossed them both in jail. Was it clunky and forced? You bet! But nobody fast-forwarded through it.

Travis (profile) says:

Wake up

I haven’t watched a commercial in years. When are they going to wake up and realize that almost everyone is already skipping their commercials? If they want to advertise, it’s all product placement ads now, and small banner ads at the bottom during the show. Nobody enjoys having their show cut into to have some twit shaking a product we don’t really need or want in our face.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


I suspect the future of ads will be ads that are written into the scripts of the shows you’re watching, like on “Bones” where a character will go on and on AND ON about how great his car is,

In an earlier comment, I mentioned how there were some shows that I thought were well done, but the product placement is so annoying that I can’t watch them. Bones is the #1 example of this.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think they are hitting this from the wrong direction. If I were the media companies who licensed my content to dish/etc, and the ads were a part of the content package, then I would argue that there is a breach of good faith on the contract level. I am selling you a package which includes the ads, for which I generate revenue. Dish et al know this. They agreed to the ads when they signed the licensing contract. They are now providing the users a way of skipping the ads for which they contract with me to provide to the users.

Anonymous Coward says:


I remember! Remember the screaming, that is. Heck, I remember the death of beta. Our hole-in-the-wall local rental place carried both for a while, even after it was nearly impossible to get a beta player anymore.

Dear content industry: please stop shooting yourself in the foot because you didn’t think of it first. ~Kthx, no longer a customer

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Just to clarify....

It’s actually a lot more than 5x speed. I think it’s more like 32x speed. I believe each step doubles it.

Also if you’ve got the Motorola DVR with the gray or silver remote you can program a button (I use the A button) to do a 30 second skip. Makes breezing through commercials a cinch. Skip skip skip skip skip skip oops, too far, jump back 10 seconds and there we go.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘the expense of the lawsuit resulted in Replay’s parent company SonicBlue declaring bankruptcy’

typical move by the deep pocketed industries. them winning is inevitable simply because they have more money. being right is NOT then the issue!

what right has anyone got to tell a person they have to watch a single advert? how is anyone going to be monitored? what punishment is going to be handed out to non-conformists? statutory $150,000 damages and jail time per infringement? will the next thing be that people are forced to buy a magazine that contains nothing but adverts and are then monitored reading them all? which thick fucking senator is going to champion a bill to get this into law? and the next invasion of privacy is going to be………..??????????????

JBDragon says:


Years ago when VCR’s were really popular, I had a VCR with built in Commercial Skip Feature. It worked pretty good most of the time. What happened is you Record the show(s), then it would Auto Rewind and then FF though the Tape and Mark where the Commercial started and ended. When you went back to watch the tape, when it got to a commercial, it would automatically FF right though them all and start playing once again when the program started again. It wasn’t always perfect, but the few times it would screw up, you could see it and rewind back or whatever if need be.

I use Media Center now to record OTA HD programs sometimes. I also have it setup to skip Commercials. It kind of works the same way, just without a tape. It’s not 100% perfect, but it works pretty darn good.

Even my HD Comcast Cable box, It’s not Automatic, but I can FF at the correct speed, and count just right, and stop it before the program starts again about 80% of the time. Generally if I’m off, it’s because the commercials happen to be running longer them normal.

What’s really bad, charging $1.99 per TV Episode. What a Rip-Off!!!

benjamin roberts (profile) says:

australia pay tv

Here in Australia, we have Foxtel,, the first big pay tv service here. I had it, and it was ok.. but then I got sick of it, because I realized I’d been watching tv for free all my life, and why should I pay through the nose for endless re-runs and total crap, which (again), I could watch for free. Now Foxtel too has commercials, and there is no way in HELL I’m paying for the privilege of watching commercials during re-runs of Greenacres, or the latest bloody documentary about the pyramids. TV series on DVD or (for the more free spirited out there), illegal downloads are the future of TV. I’m sick of big corporations telling us what to do. If a corporation is legally a person, that means it should be able to die a bloody, agonizing death, just like a real person. I’d pay to see that.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am amazed to see I am not the only one who has cut the cord here. I cut it for two reasons.

The first reason was the programming was so subpar, I felt like an idiot watching it. I got more entertainment out of watching other people watch it than the show that was on.

The second reason I quit tv, was the commercial. The programs are made around them. It’s the excuse to give you the commercial, not the other way around.

This thing with compressing the sound so they can jack the signal level up and keep it under peaks, has gotten totally out of hand. So much so, they lost me as a viewer. I no longer have a tv, don’t want a tv, and sure not going to pay for broadcasting.

So how is idiot going to sue me for skipping commercials I don’t receive, since I have no interest in his broadcast products?

Anonymous Coward says:


I think it’s likely they will charge a surcharge for every Hopper DVR install Dish has when the next round of price negotiations hit.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dish having another major battle with content providers and losing/cutting off several channels (Disney alone could cripple them if they pull ESPN, ABC, ABC Family, Disney channels, etc).

Sorta like they are in the process of doing now with AMC, only ten times worse.

silverscarcat says:

I must be old…

I remember when Disney would show their cartoons and other shows, without commercial interruption, until the show was over, then play all the commercials at the end of the episode before the next show would start up.

I’d run to the bathroom because I was so enraptured with the show, I held off for over 26 minutes.

PacWestViewer says:

Dish vs Hulu - Diff Standards

I recently purchased the “Hopper” from Dish. The added local broadcast auto record with commercial(less) viewing is an option, is not on by default and the consumer is required to Opt In (via menu) to use it.

It fills the hard disk with a weeks worth of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. If viewed the next day it removes (most) of the commercials.

Compare this to Hulu
If we view any of programs from these stations that stream through Hulu the local commercials aren’t there, new ones are that Hulu added, and even those are shorter in duration and come with a banner telling us how long we have to raid the fridge or use the restroom before the program resumes.

Why one set of standards for streaming and another for Dish, at least Dish keeps all the commercials when viewed live, something Hulu doesn’t even attempt and it’s subsidized by the media giants to begin with…

P.S. the Dish Hopper rocks, here we have 4 TVs watching 4 different programs (3 live) and even connects to DNLA devices to view our own homemade content.

Anonymous Coward says:



I watch Bones, but when they started injecting those ads into the show, I almost quit watching. They did that a number of times last season. Theres product placement and then there are full blown commercials, and thats what they were doing. So yeah, any show that puts a 15 to 30 second ad right into the show, I’ll just stop watching.

You were right, it was clunky and forced and had nothing to do with the show in most cases.

MikeVx (profile) says:

I went off all forms of broadcast video years ago...

Cut to minimum TV service on Comcast, only kept that much, which I never watched except for weather emergencies, because it cost more for internet-only, and on U-Verse I don’t even have any TV service. All the programs I watch either arrive on plastic discs (Netflix) or are downloaded (Pioneer One, anybody?). The commercials were bad enough, but when all channels became all-ads-all-the-time (those {censored} logos count, I simply cannot tolerate them} I left and am better off for it.

Before TV elected to cease to exist for me, I had not watched a real-time show for years. My primary use of the VCR was commercial-skipping. I would tape shows, then blow past the ads when watching them.

Every now and then I’ll be visiting friends and see the horrible cesspit that TV has become. I expect that my current tube-display TV will never die because it gets so little use. The only reason I have a digital broadcast converter is for news and weather emergencies. I think I used it once last june when my U-Verse went out for an hour due to severe weather and I wanted to see how bad things were.

I simply do not put up with ads any more. I stopped listening to radio and now burn CDs for my car CD player (no easy way to interface an MP3 player, but the book lied when it said burned discs wouldn’t work). I’ve let my various magazine subscriptions lapse. I’ve got Trueblock Plus installed (Adblock Plus went to the dark side in allowing “unobtrusive” ads, {no such thing} while you can change this, it is reset with each update, at least it was when I gave up on it), and I even have an ad-blocker installed on my Android phone.

I don’t put up with the rubbish on DVDs, either. After some tinkering, I can skip anything, no matter what the disc wants.

Make things annoying and I’ll work around the annoyance. Make it too hard to avoid the annoyance and I just stop dealing with the things entirely.

If you want my money, make it worth my while. I can always find somewhere else to spend it, or I can not spend at all in some categories.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once upon a time...

I know… there are probably many steps in between.

But I feel that people think they will live forever (at least that the human race will, not talking about the delusional folks). And oil/plastic is of finite amount. Therefore… it will happen, just how. Better to quit the stuff before you run out and need to go cold turkey.

We are addicted, like a heroin addict. If we stopped for one day… imagine the withdrawls this dependent society would feel.

Oil has allowed for ~7 billion people to live on this earth. Take it away tomorrow and the number would likley crash below 1 billion in fairly short order. I suppose the earth could live with over 7 billion people, just not in the current fashion, nor is there an easily solution to transform into this reality.

The choices made in the past, along with those made today, can’t be undone. Everything you do has an impact whether you decide to convince yourself otherwise or not.

Jim says:

TV execs aren't scared, it's Marketing people

TV commercials, as ineffective as they are, are around because Marketing departments in thousands of businesses have to do something convenient and visible with their money. Now, Marketing people know that advertising is useless, certainly compared to word-of-mouth and other campaigns that don’t involve media buys. But if their bosses knew that, their budgets (and jobs) would go up in flames. So, Marketing people don’t market a company’s product to consumers, they market the value of Marketing to their bosses. There’s a million exaggerations and outright lies told every day in this respect. And as long as there’s Marketing people, they will be commercials on TV. The only thing TV execs worry about are ad rates, hence the obsession with ratings, but I don’t think that Marketing people are worried about the price of ad space, as long as their budget spigot stays open.

It’s not TV people who lie to companies, it’s Marketing people lying to their bosses.

G Thompson (profile) says:


They are beginning to do Augmented Reality product placement too now.

For example: the actors are sitting around a table having breakfast, they show a breakfast cereal being poured into the bowls, with some juice on table. Both are specific brand names.

What you don’t realise is those boxes, products are actually coloured green or blue (like blue/green screen technology) and that the actual product design is computer generated dependant on who pays, and what market/region the show is being sold into.

That’s the new product advertising and can be carried across to online streaming as well.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


I dunno its entertaining seeing them slipping current products into old shows.
There was a repeat of a tv show and in the background was a poster for a movie not even being made when the show was originally shot.

I find it amazing they find a way to sell the slot in the show for characters to drink soft drink x and then sell commercial slots to soft drink y.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


The downside is that Disney would be shooting themselves in the foot as well. If you take away things from consumers they will find another source for the content. Then they can both bitch about it.

Or they could behave like grownups and work out a better system than trying to keep something for the dawn of television as the system we “have” to use.

Like the MPAA/RIAA… they are clinging to hard to the old models, that should be a textbook example to the TV execs that trying to do the same things is a stupid idea.

bbandeveywheuh (profile) says:

It seems to me that unless there is advertising of some sort that all the shows that people watch will go away. Last time I checked production costs for TV shows still existed…so someone tell me how you constantly make everything accessible (for free) without commercials. Pretty soon there will be no network TV and it will all be accessible via Netflix, Roku, etc. Golly gee, Netflix, et al, are pay models.

fairuse (profile) says:

You don't see that purty [sic] picture cycling thru your subconsciousness

Advertisements on TV are not limited to hard breaks during your viewing. The large screen HDTV has real estate development a la suburban sprawl.

Every bit of the screen is ‘Sponsored by’ some brand. Bottom popups cover 1/3 of my TV when watching sports; 10 sec is a long time. Network self promotion? I won’t go there. Top of the screen is reserved for more advertising in the guise of ‘who is winning the game’.

That brings me to 4:3 side bars. In time that space will look like a bad layout in google ad space. I think the reason it is not done yet is due to fear of backlash; in time web site layout will come to TV screens.

Back to ad skipping: It is all about margins. The insurance lizard contracts x amount of time. The end result is we get to see it 4 times an hour. If insurance lizard knows the ad will be skipped it demands a better price; lower. And increase the cycle rate. This goes for Flo insurance, broken dick Rx, telecomm and all that snake oil advertising.

Mute buttons will be next.

I-Blz says:


Exactly. I use Netflix for all the TV I actually care about (except for the DC Nation block on CN, but that’s more for the sake of getting my ass up early on saturday than anything else), and if Netflix doesn’t have it, one of the thousands of repository websites will (AnimeFlavor, AnimeFreak, etc.)
I have no need for TV anymore, because everything on it is already on the internet, sometimes minutes after the first airing.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


But you’re right, because I use the library to check some stuff out first, yeah, I guess I’m a “pirate.”

In the eyes of the MAFIAA, you are a pirate because you exist and you are not them. Just listen to the shills here. We say over and over again that we buy their product and they still accuse us of torrenting (I torrent all the time, linux distros and other open source/legal and even some quasi-legal stuff) their stuff. I get the feeling that they would prefer a system where we get taxed part of our paycheck, which goes to them, whether or not they produce anything.

ToFit says:


Ownership is extended from the free channels these days- i.e. NBC = Comcast and ABC = Disney. You can’t realistically tell everyone that the profits from Avengers couldn’t cover ABC Nightly News for a while. Also they could trim some of the crazy salaries. How much do they pay some of these people to read a teleprompter on the air? I’d bet there are plenty of other talented people that could do the exact same job at a lower rate. The artifical media construction of celebrity causes an artifical inflation of a job that thousands of local individuals do or could do at a much lower to almost no cost.

The overly broad ownership rules allow for high production costs to continue increasing. Oligopic businesses own the majority of “free” distribution channels and use these artificial limits to push costs higher and force competitors out of the market by looking like 3rd rate productions.

After 30 plus years why are there still only 3 to 5 free channels in every market? Just wait till technology allows for high quality production values to allow everyday web bloggers to compete with Disney and Comcast. At that point the only way to compete is to sue everyone for infringement and reduce P2P communication transfer.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


In an earlier comment, I mentioned how there were some shows that I thought were well done, but the product placement is so annoying that I can’t watch them. Bones is the #1 example of this.

I’m still out on product placement. Overall, I agree with you, but I remember watching this fantastic movie once with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton about an indestructible red Chevy truck. And it had a scientist saying “That’s no moon, that’s a space station.” But that is all I really remember about that movie. I thought it was very good product placement at the time, but then I went out and bought a Dodge, so apparently it wasn’t all that effective. (At the time, though, I did have a Chevy.)

btr1701 (profile) says:


> Hawaii Five 0 has had some clangers too – especially
> the Microsoft ones.

No, their absolute worst one was also a Subway product placement. They were in the middle of a time-sensitive murder investigation, but the characters actually took the time to stop at the beach where the big fat guy who runs the shrimp truck told them all about how delicious his Subway sandwich was.

Anonymous Coward says:


The content providers don’t see it that way though. They are willing to take a hit from one MVPD not carrying their channels in order to extort what they want from them

There’s a reason Disney gets away with charging 5+ dollars per subsciber for ESPN and has the power to demand it be included in the lowest tier the MPVD offers so that ALL subscribers have to pay for it, regardless of whether they watch it or not. They get that same treatment from every MVPD, Dish, comcast, Directv, Time-Warner etc. The Multichannel video distributors would be far more hurt by Disney cutting off the signal to all their networks than Disney would be.

Anonymous Coward says:


This doesn’t have anything to do with the internet. This is about a feature Dish includes in it’s hardware.

Anyway, it’s similar in difference to the way that digital is different from analog. In a lot of cases, it’s more desirable so the studios want more control/limitations placed on it(digital copying, DRM), but they have to put up with the old method because there’s laws already in place to allow for it (analog copying, analog loophole).

FF button is an established feature that has been around for decades now. Auto-skip on the other hand is still up in the air, legally speaking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once upon a time...


The problem is, we’re dependent. Out current setup doesn’t give good alternatives. I heat my house with natural gas (finite & contributing to greenhouse), but heating it with wood or coal isn’t any better. I drive my car on oil, but electric cars get electricity somewhere, and our current battery systems in high efficiency cars are poorly developed and don’t last all that long. (I like to keep a car for 10-15 years, because that’s a big hunk of metal and plastic to throw out any sooner than than.) I ride my bike, but I’ve been almost hit several times, and the weather’s terrible here most of the year.

Many problems can be fixed or mitigated on a personal level, but some really need a society-wide or technological fix.

(My favorite intermediate steps: composting, setting A/C-heat gaps of at least 10 degrees, and not putting junk all over my garden and yard to run off into the water system.)

Anonymous Coward says:


At that point the only way to compete is to sue everyone for infringement and reduce P2P communication transfer.

Your comment implies the companies in question are actually thinking 10-15 years down the line and already adopting the necessary model to counteract free/open source entertainment…. I just don’t think they’re that prescient or give us peons that much credit.

I think the way the oligopolists will compete is by finding those business models that work and suing anyone using them on any slim pretext until the new companies declare bankruptcy. It also helps to attack any individual or group developing new platforms on which such material could be centrally organized and distributed, preferably using the excuse that the platform might possibly be used by some people to infringe on copyrights the company might possibly have some claim to if the courts don’t look too closely at the papers.

…Oh wait.

PacWestViewer says:

Outdated Business models make consumers angry

Find a program on broadcast television that doesn’t have the station logo permanently placed in one corner of the screen. Find a premium (pay for) movie channel that doesn’t do the same thing. Even the world of premium content is filled with marketing via logos, on set product placements in the actual movies, TV ads every few minutes on your streaming service, ads every 8 minutes on your broadcast show unless “sponsored” by a company with limited commercials.

We pay for the internet connection
We pay for the video connection (Dish/Cable)
We pay providers for streaming (Dish/Hulu/Netflix)
We pay for premium content (rentals/on-demand/premium stations)

We’re the ones having to buy the receivers, the smart device, the Televisions and even the power bill.

How about the consumer getting a break for a change. It’s not asking for much to skip commercials for products we have no interest in. The business models don’t let us Opt Out and for potential revenue they don’t ask us to Opt In to select which “ad” genres or categories we would be interested in.

Media companies are abysmal, to be sneered at with contempt – not only for the low quality programming but for not adapting to this era and changing the way they do business – to align with what we the viewers want. Their heads are so far up their own reality programming that they’ve abandoned actual reality in favor of self deception.
There’s many reports showing that treating the consumer with respect earns their business. How about some?

Entertainment isn’t when we’re bombarded with ads. When they cut open a show to place advertising, I for one am not pleased and the commercial that comes up is likely to receive my scorn and not my dollars for interrupting my show as opposed to advertisers that sponsor limited commercial shows – they earn my praise.

Point being there are other ways to advertise than breaking into shows. Those other methods get more “product” respect. Don’t ask us –AGAIN– to change our behavior to fit outdated business models. Media companies need to come up to speed on their era, our way of thinking if they want our business.

Anonymous Coward says:


Youtube: X-Ray Vision Tank Experience: See Through Walls

The future is going to be realtime placement of anything sadly that include ads.

Motion tracking is evolving and being used in other areas besides special effects.

This is why marketeers should be throwing themselves at the feet of Google so the Google Glass takes off, imagine what they could superimpose on those.

On another matter it is full to update the special effects of old public domain movies.

btr1701 (profile) says:


> FF button is an established feature that has been around
> for decades now. Auto-skip on the other hand is still up
> in the air, legally speaking.

Actually, it’s not. LEGALLY speaking, neither one violates any actual law. This isn’t even a copyright issue. This is an entirely new and separate right being asserted– the right to force people to watch advertising– and no such law exists. And even if there were such a law, if the auto-skip violated it, so would the FFW button.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Confused

It’s not about forcing people to watch advertising, it’s about preventing Dish from giving people the ability to auto-skip advertising.

They can’t force you to sit in front of the TV and watch commercials. Nothing is preventing you from getting up and leaving the room, turning the channel, etc.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Confused

> They can’t force you to sit in front of the TV and
> watch commercials.

They also can’t legally force Dish or any other company to remove an auto-skip feature from their devices.

Once again, it’s important to to note that there’s NO LAW against enabling consumers to avoid viewing advertising. As draconian as copyright law has become, this is not even a copyright issue. Avoiding commercials is not a copyright violation.

Angelica says:

Let's Be Honest

I could hardly believe the title of this article when I first read it because I think the entire nation will have to be charged guilty for skipping commercials. Not to be a nerdy perfectionist, but since I work for Dish, I know that the Auto Hop feature is only available on the whole-home HD DVR, the Hopper. The Hopper has a function called PrimeTime Anytime that can be enabled to record primetime of NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. When someone goes in to their PrimeTime Anytime recordings, a message pops up and allows he/she to choose to watch the episode with or without the commercials. The only one skipping the commercials is the customer, and to be honest, we all do it anyway.

Clayton Simms says:

Why don?t CBS, FOX, and NBC execs want consumers to enjoy commercial-free TV?

Why don?t CBS, FOX, and NBC execs want consumers to enjoy commercial-free TV? It?s what we want! I?m a customer and employee of Dish, and I think Auto Hop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. A well known consumer advocacy group, Public Knowledge, agrees that people should have the right to control how they watch TV. They?re taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, and NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room and DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV

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