COMMENTARY | Just about ever technology fan over a certain age remembers the good old days of the VCR. Being able to fast-forward through commercials was an advantage the old school television boxes had, today many folks time shift their favorite television shows as a way to fast-forward through the commercials on their DVR. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter a few of the major television networks, Fox, NBC, and CBS, are drawing the line at Auto Hop, a new technology from The Dish Network that allows customers to eliminate commercials from a broadcast with the press of a button.
According to the New York Times, Fox, NBC, and CBS have filed a lawsuit against Auto Hop and Dish, claiming that Dish has no right to tamper with broadcasts, as the skipping of commercials is altering the product the networks put on the air. Of course, the Times also reports that Dish has also filed a lawsuit, and included ABC, which claims that Auto Hop does not infringe on any copyrights. The meat of the argument is pretty clear to anyone that watches television, all those ads pay the bills for the networks and they want them to be seen.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the 14 million Dish Network subscribers could undercut the premiums that networks charge for commercials, which is a little hard to believe. So the battle is not just about money, but actually about how much money can be collected as well. Strange that TV networks have no trouble with anyone fast-forwarding through commercials, but eliminating them altogether is somehow crossing the line.
Television has to find a way to adapt to the digital world, just as the music industry had to adjust to downloading music. Taking the technology to court is a bit on the ridiculous side, but there is a tremendous amount of money at stake should the Auto Hop technology go mainstream. Still, consumers should have the ability to take advantage of any technology available, and really what is the difference between Auto Hop and the old top-loading VCR?