Dish CEO responds to network criticism of “Auto Hop”


Dish NetworkDish Network says it has “respect” for broadcast networks after executives at NBC and Fox criticized and questioned its rollout of Auto Hop, a new offering that lets subscribers skip commercial breaks in DVR viewing entirely. Auto Hop bypasses ads from recorded shows on NBC, Fox, ABC and CBS, but not cable nets.

In an emailed statement, Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said he has respect for the networks and for the advertising model, but this is what consumers want and he needs to stay competitive in his offerings against rival DirecTV: “We are spending more on national advertising in 2012 than we ever have. In recent years, Dish has agreed to pay significant rate increases for broadcast content. Dish values its relationships with both local and national broadcasters. But, answering the consumer demand for choice and control is our primary mission.”

During the NBC’s upfront presentation 5/14 at Radio City Music Hall, NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert told the audience that Dish’s new DVR commercial zapping device is an insult to all the money NBC and its parent, Comcast spend on sports and entertainment programming: “Just because technology gives you the ability to do something, does that mean you should? Not always…I think this is an attack on our ecosystem.”

Dish’s announcement of its new service came last week, days before the major broadcast networks presented their schedules to advertisers who are already worried about the effectiveness of their commercials as technology changes the way people view television.

“It seems a strange thing to do,” said Peter Rice, chairman of entertainment for the Fox Networks Group. Rice, while announcing Fox’s fall schedule 5/14, noted that broadcast networks such as Fox are the largest content providers to pay-TV distributors such as Dish, and wondered why they’d risk alienating that relationship. As for whether the network will consider legal action to try to derail Auto Hop, Rice said Fox is “still evaluating it.”