Public Knowledge – Tell Old Media to Keep Their Hands Out of Your DVR


There’s nothing wrong with advertising per se, but I find the broadcaster’s posturing around DISH’s recent feature enabling automatic commercial skipping for Primetime TV highly objectionable. While DISH has deep pockets, and the pugnacity to put up a good fight, it shouldn’t have to go it alone – with Public Knowledge starting up a campaign to lend us a voice against these audacious claims.

Dear FOX, NBC, and CBS Executives:

I am appalled at the news that you are suing DISH over its DVR “Hopper,” a technology that allows its users to more conveniently skip commercials on recorded shows. Astonishingly, you’ve claimed both that DISH and its customers are breaking the law when they don’t watch commercials on recorded programming. I’m offended that you would so casually call millions of Americans lawbreakers. 

Skipping commercials is 100% legal and the Supreme Court affirmed viewers’ right to record TV in its landmark Betamax decision of 1984. Unfortunately, while technology has evolved since the Betamax decision, your habit of trying to use the courts to squash innovation has not.

TV viewers’ preferences are evolving. We want on-demand shows and live broadcasting. We want control over when and how we watch TV. And we want to be able to fast forward and rewind recorded programming in ways that are convenient to us. These are not unreasonable expectations because we know that networks make significant money from satellite and cable operators who then pass on the cost to us through our bill.

As a 21st century television viewer, I call on you, the network television executive, to stop trampling innovation and allow DISH and other companies to innovate and improve their technologies and to meet the needs of today’s television viewer.


Andrew Van Til

Public Knowledge