Fox, CBS & NBC Sue Over Dish Ad Skipping Tech
Fox Insists Tech Will 'Destroy Television Ecosystem'
As we noted the other day
, numerous broadcast executives have been whining about Dish's new DVR technology that will skip ads automatically -- a system that simply streamlines something most DVR users do anyway. It also has a few caveats -- the biggest being that users can only use this technology one day after the recorded programs originally air. It's kind of an obvious tool that could benefit consumers, so not too surprisingly, Fox, CBS, and NBC have quickly run to their lawyers and filed a lawsuit against Dish
All of the networks are trying to somehow argue that skipping commercials violates copyright law, a claim that would run contrary to the Betamax ruling
. According to a statement issued by Fox, the new technology is effectively "destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem":
"We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television."
Dish has filed a countersuit, issuing a statement of their own:
"Consumers should be able to fairly choose for themselves what they do and do not want to watch,” Dish senior vp programming David Shull said in a statement. “Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control."
Dish is hoping for a relatively-quick declaratory judgement that says their new Adhopper technology doesn't violate copyright law.
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Except that this isn't free, over-the-air television. It's a subscription satellite company where the customers directly pay for the programming they watch in the form of monthly fees.
"Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television."
They also conveniently overlook the fact that such features are a direct response to the ever increasing amount of commercial time that the networks keep cramming into shows. An "hour" show is barely 40 minutes. A "half-hour" show is only 20 minutes. Think about that for a second; An "hour" show contains as much advertising as a "half-hour" show contains content!
Back in the 70s, shows had a full title sequence, short commercial breaks with maybe 5-8 minutes of ads per hour and then full closing credits. Now shows have a short title sequence and the cast list plays over the opening scene, 20 minutes of commercials per hour, annoying ads down in the corner of the screen (I've seen ads for actual products!) and then the credits are scrunched and whiz by too fast to read so that they can show you ads for other shows. Plus, don't forget all the product placement in the shows which is often jarring and in-your-face.
Couple that with steadily rising cable/satellite costs that can easily see people paying up to $160 a month (phone, internet & TV) even without premium channels and is it any wonder that people are getting fed up with all the extra crap invading their shows?
TV viewers see commercials as a necessary evil in order to watch their shows. TV execs see shows as a necessary evil in order to get people to watch their ads.