Debate engaged over DISH’s AutoHop


John DingellIs 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.


  1. Thanks for heads up here, Dave, but I kind of question your analogy at the end. You say someone building their own satellite dish and pirating Dish’s transmission to avoid paying for it is the same thing as someone using Auto Hop to skip commercials. Here’s some quick info for your consideration; Auto Hop only works on shows recorded by the PrimeTime Anytime feature. That’s a four hour chunk of time, every night, Monday to Friday, and only on four different channels. It only works the day after those shows have been aired, and it doesn’t work on local newscasts or major sporting events. All this does is automates a process people already do. As an employee beta tester for Dish I’ve had Auto Hop since it came out and I can tell you, I don’t see fewer commercials than I did before. I see the same exact same amount: none. I never watched commercials. That was why I got a TV provider that gave me access to DVR. With Auto Hop, instead of mashing the skip forward button over and over, it gives me the choice of having it automatically done for me. Not sure how that is the same as someone pirating hundreds of channels worth of transmissions, twenty-four hours a day, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

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