Advanced Television

CBS ‘censors’ Big Bang Hopper tweet

March 1, 2013

Dish has accused CBS of telling one of the network’s stars, Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory, to delete a Twitter message promoting the Hopper to her 1.2 million followers. Dish’s chief executive, Joe Clayton, a chance to say on Twitter: “It’s disappointing that CBS – once the exemplar of editorial independence and innovation – continues to use its heavy hand to hold back progress from consumers.”

CBS bit back a few hours later: “Once again, Joe Clayton demonstrates his dubious gift for hyperbole and hucksterism. No demands were made, but it’s clear that Dish’s culture of fabrication is alive and well.”

Dish and broadcasters such as CBS have been in court for months now, arguing over the legality of the Hopper, a digital video recorder that allows users to automatically skip all the ads on prime-time network television shows. Dish says the Hopper is a legitimate response to changing consumer behavior.

The broadcasters say it’s a violation of their copyrights, and perhaps a violation of their carriage contracts with Dish, too. They have, according to Dish, refused to sell the company any advertising time to promote the device.

Dish said Cuoco’s Twitter message in support of the Hopper was a “sponsored tweet,” meaning that it paid to have the message placed there. “Amazing!” the message said, pointing to an online commercial for the device. “Watching live TV anywhere on the #Hopper looks pretty awesome!”

Broadcasters don’t object to the DVR per se; just because people can skip ads doesn’t mean they always do. But the Hopper makes it easy to skip ads automatically — and that’s what the networks fear.

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