Is AutoHop an improvement of existing technology for the convenience of television viewers, or is it an assault on broadcast television’s business model? In the course of the discussion on the topic, DISH exec Charlie Ergen was addressed as “Mr. Hopper.”
The topic first came up under questioning by Dianna DeGette (D-CO).
DeGette made a strong case for the importance of strong local broadcast content, particularly in times of emergency and said it was important to make sure broadcasters have the ability to provide it going forward.
Hearst Television’s David Barrett noted that DISH’s AutoHop ad-skipping option is damaging to the broadcast business model and puts its ability to provide such programming in jeopardy.
Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge said consumers should have the ability to use AutoHop if they want to – she said it takes a three-step DVR procedure and turns it into a one-step remote control procedure.
However, John Dingell (D-MI) asked Ergen if he was aware that politicians of all stripes use television advertising to communicate with their constituents. And yes, it was Dingell who inadvertently called Ergen Mr. Hopper, then corrected himself. Since Dingell himself relies on his advertising getting through, he expressed his skepticism about the technology.
RBR-TVBR observation: Just how does Mr. Ergen want broadcasters to earn a living? He doesn’t want to pay any retransmission fees. And now he apparently wants to undermine broadcasters’ ability to sell advertising. Is he proposing that the entire universe of US broadcast television stations go non-profit?
Should broadcasters develop and encourage the use of satcaster signal capturing devices, allowing consumers to build their own satellite dish and pull in DISH Network programming without going through the inconvenience of dealing with the DISH Network subscription office and their propensity to mail out a monthly bill? That would be about the same thing.