Dish Network Says Broadcaster Dumped It Because Of DVR AutoHop

The major networks have already lined up to fight Dish Network over AutoHop, its DVR function that allows viewers to skip over commercials entirely, with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox filing separate lawsuits against it. And now a local broadcaster is taking issue with the ad-skipper, and has refused to carry Dish’s signals.

Dish claims Hoak Media Corp., a Dallas-based company which owns 14 small-market television stations in places like Grand Junction, Colo. and Fargo, N.D., broke up with the company because of AutoHop, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Hoak doesn’t respect customer control — they are telling customers they must watch commercials,” said David Shull, Dish’s senior vice president of programming.

Dish claims that while talking with Hoak about a new distribution agreement, Hoak blocked Dish’s ability to carry the stations.

“Hoak is insisting on a rate increase of more than 200% and has demanded that Dish eliminate customer-enabled commercial-skipping technology found on its Hopper,” Dish said in a statement.

The AutoHop allows Dish’s 14 million subscribers to more easily skip commercials on shows recorded on the DVR on the major networks during prime time. Instead of just fast-forwarding through ads, AutoHop causes the screen to go dark during commercial breaks for a few seconds before the show comes back on.

Last month when the networks filed suit in a U.S. District Court in California, claiming AutoHop violates their copyrights, Dish sued back in New York, asking the court to declare that its Auto Hop technology does not violate the network’s copyrights.

Dish claims broadcaster pulled signals in part because of AutoHop [Los Angeles Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. samonela says:

    I don’t want to ever be a Dish customer, but I will gladly support their cause.

  2. rockelscorcho says:

    Once again, pirate the damn shows! Let the dogs fight, while we watch the shows.

    • Jawaka says:

      Hopefully some day karma will bite you in the ass and you’ll lose your job because of cuts that needed to be made because of losses due to theft.

  3. Beave says:

    Media is such a crappy and broken business model. They are increasingly fighting with cable and satellite companies to get their carriage rates increased so they get money for every subscriber, then they turn around and fight tooth and nail to force people who are paying for their channels to watch commercials. The reason sports programming has by far the highest advertising rates is that it’s the one type of programming people really don’t want to watch recorded, so they know commercials won’t get skipped by DVR’s.

    • Alan says:

      I don’t know about you, but I start every game about 30-45 minutes late. I’m commercial free for at least the first half :)

      • rework says:

        Absolutely, I do the same, if not an hour later. I’ve things to do, so I prefer watching a game in 1 hour rather than 3.

        • lee says:

          that’s fine but the auto hop is bit to far if I knew that an cable or sat company was completely skipping the ads i would pull my content from them completely far easier then suing them

          fast forwarding the ads is fine (as you can see them still just a lot faster) its the skipping them completely is not

  4. HomerSimpson says:

    And if I were in an area that had Hoak, I’d be telling them to stick it.

  5. scoosdad says:

    “And now a local broadcaster is taking issue with the ad-skipper, and has refused to carry Dish’s signals.”

    No, that’s backwards. The local broadcaster has refused to allow Dish to carry their signals.

    You could sort of see this one coming a mile away, though. The networks may not have the direct power to stop Dish from doing this without dragging them all the way through the courts, but the local station groups hold the upper hand when it comes to granting and negotiating retransmission permission when that’s up for renewal. You can bet the networks are working behind the scenes to make sure their stations fall into line on that.

  6. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    “Hoak doesn’t respect customer control — they are telling customers they must watch commercials,” said David Shull, Dish’s senior vice president of programming.”

    I’m all for no commercials…then we can have ridiculous product placements in shows. This response by the VP of programming cracks me. Yes, Mr. Shull, about as much control as customers have over the amount of crap channels (“as seen on TV”, shopping channels, etc) you provide.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I agree with pay television OR free television with commercials.

    You shouldn’t have both.

    • zandar says:

      precisely why i shun Dish, Direct AND cable.. they have all crossed that line. and this aggression will not stand, man.

  8. Coffee says:

    Time to be unpopular. Personally, I can see why companies take such exception with AutoHop. I dislike commercials as much as the next person, but they are a major source of revenue for television networks and help to subsidize the programming that people watch. If that revenue stream dries up because no one is watching ads, they’re going to either cut programming (which is actually fine with me) or raise the rates they charge cable companies to carry their stations. In the end, the consumer will have to pay more for the convenience. Me? I just eschew that model altogether and go with Netflix and other streaming services, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Subsidize? More like pay for everything. Networks only real source of revenue is sponsors, either through advertising or product placement. Sometimes they get residual revenue by selling shows for refunds, but that takes years to recoup. Still, I don’t see how they have a case. Just because something is bad for your business model doesn’t mean it is illegal. This is no different than a VCR or any other recording device that has a fast forward button. Just because it does it automatically shouldn’t matter. Then again, if they loose I’m sure big media’s puppets in Congress will just pass a lot prohibiting it, just like they did with the broadcast flag.

      • Coffee says:

        They make additional revenue charging cable companies to carry their stations, and they own many cable channels as well (Disney owns ABC, which in turn “owns” ESPN, for example). There’s also revenue from things like DVD sales and other show tie-ins, although I don’t know how streaming video has affected sales (I would guess dramatically).

        All that said, I’m not saying that people can’t use features like AutoHop, only that said features will affect the distribution model or the amount of money that goes into programming. Networks aren’t just going to bend over and take it when their ad space gets devalued by products like this.

        • Velvet Jones says:

          Don’t confuse locals with networks, and by networks I mean the broadcast networks. Unless something changed recently, broadcast networks do not get money from retransmission fees. Those go to the local station. Networks can get money from their cable only stations, but that is a different area. Those types of stations do have additional revenue streams. I still think local affiliates are ultimately doomed. Their revenue keeps plummeting while costs are going up.

    • rlmiller007 says:

      Exactly right.

  9. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I couldn’t figure out what the “hawper” ads were about.

  10. frank64 says:

    I can skip ahead fine with my 30 second button. I don’t think it is in our best interest to go further than that. Dish should drop this feature, the cost benefit isn’t there. I kind of understand where the station is coming from, but there are too many commercials and Dish also pays a ever rising fee to the stations too. They are charging us twice, and the price on both keeps rising.

  11. RubiksDude says:

    So broadcasters would rather us see a few still images of their commercials instead of nothing at all? What’s the difference?

    • who? says:

      I read something somewhere that people are actually less proactive about skipping commercials themselves than you would guess. Especially the first and last commercials of a break. If people are doing the skipping by pushing buttons, some large percentage of them (I’m thinking I remember 40-50%) will actually end up watching the first and/or last ads of the sequence, and some smaller percentage will watch the ads in the middle.

      Clearly, if the whole skipping process is automated, then even that gets lost.

      • SloppyJoe says:

        You’re exactly right, who. First and last commercials are typically the highest profit spots, because they actually get watched (in part, at least). It’s also why local news organizations & networks place their promos at the beginning and/or end of breaks.

  12. cashxx says:

    Consumers need to get together and start suing these major networks for this crap. They are a monopoly! Who watches commercials? If I’m watching live tv I ignore the commercial and go do something else till the show comes on or browse the internet.

    But I don’t believe in suing, but these guys are greedy and and action is necessary towards them. Gotta be something they can be sued on.

  13. frank64 says:

    I think the problem is the cost to produce shows is much higher than it was decades ago. That is one reason they need more commercials. The thing is, I think a big reason the cost of production has gone up is that the stars and other talent make a lot more money than they did. They make more money because they bring in the revenue by the increased commercials and fees. I think there is a circular reference going on, and we have gone above to what we should tolerate.

    The per show price on streaming is overpriced too, If I were to pay the $2-$3 per show they charge, I would be paying up to $180 a month to just watch 2 shows a night. I do have Amazon prime and will use Netflix streaming, but producers are raising the rates on those also.

  14. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    TV as we know it needs to die. It can only be a good thing for our population as a whole. Everything the TV industry does is to get people sitting mindlessly in front of the box for hours a day. That is unhealthy, unproductive and just plain inhuman. Time to cut the cable and get back out into the world.

    Watch Game of Thrones or True Blood or whatever on your own schedule, without ads, scams or fear-based “news” ruling your time. Then read a book or take a walk or go to a yoga class.

    This new tech allowing skipping of ads is the first step toward empowering the consumer to get the content they want without all the crap that currently comes with it. If content creators can’t find a way to adapt, it’s not such a big loss if they die.

    • Malik says:

      “Everything the TV industry does is to get people sitting mindlessly in front of the box for hours a day”

      You gotta see the irony of the fact that you are sitting in front of a computer to post this

      • Mark702 says:

        Or maybe he’s walking down the street with his phone, not watching where he’s going.

  15. who? says:

    Back in the olden days, cable companies got their content by sticking an antenna up in the air near the broadcast station, sucking down the broadcast content, and transmitting it, via cable to the cable subscribers. It was originally a way for people who were too far from the broadcasters to get something watchable. Why can’t dish just do that now?

  16. dush says:

    How would autohop violate copyright? They aren’t modifying the content or pirating the content.
    I’d like to see the networks just pull their programming if they hate Dish so much. Instead of getting litigious just use good old market forces.

    • frank64 says:

      Market forces would mean that the stations would win. There would be a big outcry from everyone who paid for Dish that they weren’t getting their stations. Dish would give in and stop the feature.

      This is one reason the price of Cable/Dish keeps going up. The networks keep raising the price of the most popular stations, force them not to charge a la carte for it, so the total price gets paid by ALL customers. If Cable/Dish say no, they pull the station, there is a huge outcry, they end up paying and the monthly cable bill goes up a bit. Many Networks do this, cable customers are paying premiums for stations they don’t even watch.

  17. nybiker says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You want me to watch commercials during your 30- and 60-minute shows? Fine, then limit the total amount of non-show content to 5 minutes for the 30-minute show and 10 minutes for the 60-minute show. Oh, by the way, knock it off with the 31- & 61-minute shows. It’s not like you’re giving me an extra minute of show. No, it’s another minute of ads.

    Right now, with almost 10 minutes in a 30-minute show, there’s no way I am going to sit through a live broadcast of a show. I record it to my VCR and then FF through the ads.

    I suspect that even when my financial situation improves, I am not about to renew my Directv account.

  18. Anne Noise says:

    The concept of ad-supported television that I pay for still blows my mind.

  19. Velkyr says:

    Wait, Dish is violating their copyrights because they claim that the show + ad together are copyrighted?

    If that’s the case, I think advertising agencies are getting ripped off. They are PAYING the networks to put their copyrighted material on air, and these networks are now claiming the agencies copyrights are theirs and profit off of it.

    • framitz says:

      I’m not on either side of this, but it seems that skipping ads might be twisted to mean copyright violation as the stream content is being modified.

  20. DanKelley98 says:

    Actually, the first paragraph is wrong. Rather than the broadcaster refusing to carry Dish’s signals, the broadcaster is refusing to let Dish carry its signal.

  21. Press1forDialTone says:

    Again, another incredibly stupid business move made by people under 35
    with MBAs. “Yeah, that’s it, we’ll just let them blatantly skip over commercials
    which is the revenue source for the content!!!”
    Just for the stupid way in which they tried to ram-rod consumer-based
    commercial-control technology down the throats of the (at least for now)
    folks who PAY to have the programming created, they should die a
    short painful business death. If they had played this alot smarter
    they might have actually made progress in this area, but no, we want it
    NOW. I want my Maypo!

  22. Joseph S Ragman says:

    Here we go again …

  23. clydesplace says:

    This whole thing is silly. It’s another case of station owners wanting to have their cake and eat it too. First off, Hokey does make money off Dish. They charge them big dough to carry local stations programming. Second, when watching at it’s original time as it airs, you still have to watch the commercials. The only thing Dish does is let you skip over the commercials after it has aired and been recorded, something people are going to do anyway. You can scan through recorded commercials at 60X the normal speed so you’re trying to convince me Dish’s Hopper really matters just because it saves you the 15 seconds or less that it takes to do that? Give me a break. I’m totally on Dish’s side here. And if Hoak doesn’t want them to carry their stations that’s fine too. People can still get them with an antenna just fine, and Hoak gets no carriage fees from that so they can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

  24. SilverBlade2k says:

    I hope that the judge that Dish is talking to declares that the AutoHop feature is legal.

  25. SiddhimaAmythaon says:

    The auto hop is perfectly legal undercurrent law the tech has been around for years the fact that dish is bringing it the masses is whats causing this hissyfit. , I am surprised that a local can ban dish from broadcasting them. I know Cable networks can’t they have to let any cable co or satilight who can may a non-discriminatory rate .

  26. toodarnloud says:

    The people own the airwaves. Obviously, since Congress is able to sell the usage rights. That said, I believe that any video broadcast over the airwaves should then be free to use by individual citizens privately in their own home or on their electronic devices. Obviously, copyright would extend to and prevent selling of those shows/movies or any public performance where an entry fee was accessed.

    Perhaps the advertising model will soon die. But then again, so will cable cables relying on selling CATV service. Everything will go IP within 10 years. HBOGo is trying to do that. Why pay a middleman – CATV providers – when you can pay $10/month directly to HBO? NBC and the other Networks are already doing this with their “free” content, making it available for free online.

    In 10 years, TV providers will only be internet providers.