Dish Network has been a source of controversy for many months now thanks to its AutoHop commercial-skipping feature, which allows users to automatically skip commercials in DVR recordings. Broadcast networks have stated that such a feature is detrimental to the industry as a whole, which earns quite a bit of revenue through the advertisements. Dish's chairman Charlie Ergen has responded to this criticism in an interview with AllThingsD, stating that he doesn't want to kill commercials.
Says Ergen: "I don't want to kill ads. I think advertising is great. I am very aware of the multiple revenue stream in television, subscription and advertising. But I also don't want to put my head in the sand. As an example, Hulu did a good job. You can pick an ad that is relevant to you. With the Hopper, we have technology that allows you to pick an ad relevant to you. But the broadcast industry is slow to adapt to that."
He then went on to detail that he's trying to show networks how they can make more money from targeted commercials by providing advertisements relevant to the subscribers, as well as less commercials overall. He used Hulu as an example, pointing out that subscribers can select the advertisement they want to see, rather than being forced to watch something they have no interest in.
This follows a lawsuit against Dish Network by multiple networks, including Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC, with Fox stating that the feature constitutes copyright infringement as well as undermining the industry. On January 22, CBS claimed that Dish Network had deliberately hid the AutoHop feature during negotiations, something it is trying to use to get permission to file a counterclaim of fraud against the company.