by Mike Masnick: 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 statementBut, 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.