Charlie Ergen, head of EchoStar and Dish Network, loves a battle. Currently it seems half the broadcasting industry is suing him because of his proposed Hopper ad-skipping device. Hopper can automatically (“AutoHop”) jump over advertisements, and thus potentially damage any broadcast network’s ad-revenues carried by Ergen’s Dish DTH system.
This week, Ergen is due to appear before a Congressional Committee (on “The Future of Video”) and according to pre-filed testimony will tell committee members that his technology is good in that parents can shield their kids from fast-food and alcohol advertisements.
“Through AutoHop,” he argues, “Dish has done nothing more than improve upon existing, legally-accepted, and widely available technologies that give consumers the ability to record their television shows for playback at a more convenient time, when they are able to fast-forward through or skip over commercials.”
The broadcasters are counter-arguing that Dish Network is in breach of many agreements, not least the FCC-mandated ‘must carry’ rules. Ideally, Ergen wants to see some of these rules lifted, although the FCC has already said that it is limited in the action it can take because of the law.