As we've been discussing
, Dish is now offering users a new DVR ad-skipping technology that has most cable and broadcast executives running for the waaaaambulance. Dish's Hopper technology simply automates something DVR users are already doing (skipping ads), provided the program they're viewing is at least one day past its live air date. The result has been an amusing platter of broadcast executive hysteria and several lawsuits, companies like Fox and Time Warner Cable insisting that Dish is destroying the known television universe
by giving consumers what they want.
Dish has since filed a countersuit against all the major broadcast networks. Jumping into the fight is consumer group Public Knowledge, which has also launched a new letter-writing campaign for consumers who are interested in technological progress moving forward in a pay TV industry that's milking consumers dry with bi-annual rate hikes. The automated letter form is here
for those interested. From the letter:
Skipping commercials is 100% legal and the Supreme Court affirmed viewers' right to record TV in its landmark Betamax decision of 1984. Unfortunately, while technology has evolved since the Betamax decision, your habit of trying to use the courts to squash innovation has not.
TV viewers’ preferences are evolving. We want on-demand shows and live broadcasting. We want control over when and how we watch TV. And we want to be able to fast forward and rewind recorded programming in ways that are convenient to us. These are not unreasonable expectations because we know that networks make significant money from satellite and cable operators who then pass on the cost to us through our bill.
Public Knowledge's John Bergmayer talks a little more about the campaign in a blog post
, the group again notes that claiming that automatic ad-skipping violates copyrights is an absurd argument, especially given the precedent set by the Betamax case. Just like the VCR, broadcasters seem intent on being dragged kicking and screaming into the video consumption future.