That’s the latest angle on Dish Network‘s case for the technology, which CEO Charlie Ergen made this morning at a congressional hearing on the Future of Video. With AutoHop, parents don’t have to worry that when their kids watch TV “they have no choice but to see commercials for junk food and alcohol,” he told the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He says the feature simply automates what consumers can already do with a DVR. Broadcasters believe that “the consumer does not have a right to skip a commercial or record a show. We’ll fight the good fight for the consumer.” Gigi Sohn of activist group Public Knowledge sided with Ergen. “The public has a right to record what they want to record,” she says. AutoHop “turns three steps with a remote control into one, and consumers should have the right to do that.” Broadcasters are suing Dish, claiming that the feature — which automatically jumps past ads on recorded shows — violates their copyrights and the satellite company’s contracts with the program providers. Hearst Television chief David Barrett, representing the National Association of Broadcasters, added that AutoHop “remains a threat to the local broadcasting system.” Responding to a question from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.) he said that the financial health of over-the-air TV is important “if you’re interested in having your station cover the forest fires in Ft. Collins.”
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