Washington -- Dish Network's Auto Hop ad-skipping option
allows parents to shield their kids from commercials for "junk food and alcohol,"
chairman Charlie Ergen plans to tell Congress Wednesday.
That's 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 digital video recorder service
from the major broadcast networks. NBC, CBS and Fox sued
the No. 2 satellite-TV provider over the Auto Hop commercial-skipping feature
of its Hopper digital video recorder product, saying that function 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 Auto Hop,"
he argued, "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
Also in his testimony, Ergen called for a revamp of the
retransmission-consent/must-carry regime. He said current retrans rules are a
prime example of an outdated government policy in need of overhaul by both
Congress and the Federal Communications Commssion.
The FCC does not appear ready to do the overhauling unless
Congress gives it the word, however. Chairman Julius Genachowski has signaled
that the agency'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 Wireless, AT&T and others.
"We want to provide consumers with the choice in
services and providers that they seek," he said. "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."