Dish's AutoHop ad-skipping option allows parents to shield
their kids from commercials for "junk food and alcohol," Dish chairman
Charlie Ergen plans to tell Congress Wednesday.
That is according to a copy of his prepared testimony for a
Future of Video hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee.
Ergen is defending Dish's Hopper service from the broadcast
networks, who have sued the company over the AutoHop commercial-skipping
feature, saying it breached contracts and violated copyrights.
In his testimony, Ergen positions the service as the
evolution of giving consumers what they want, when they want it, which includes
allowing them to skip "what they don't want to see."
"Through AutoHop," he argues, "Dish has done
nothing more than improve upon existing, legally-accepted, and widely available
technologies that give consumers the ability to record their television shows
for playback at a more convenient time, when they are able to fast-forward
through or skip over commercials."
Ergen calls for a revamp of the retransmission
consent/must-carry regime, calling it a prime example of an outdated government
policy in need of overhaul by both Congress and the FCC. The FCC does not
appear ready to do the overhauling unless Congress gives it the word, however.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has signaled that the FCC's authority in that area
is limited by statute.
Ergen also puts in a plug for Dish's FCC petition to allow
it to use satellite spectrum to create a next-generation mobile broadband
network in competition to Verizon, AT&T and others.
"We want to provide consumers with the choice in
services and providers that they seek," he says. "We can't get
started, however, until the FCC releases updated rules governing how our
satellite licenses can be used for terrestrial mobile broadband. Given the
overwhelming support of the comments received to date, we hope that the FCC
will act, and finalize the new rules by the end of the summer."