Ad-Zapper Makers Claim TV Industry Is Being 'Short-Sighted'

Ad-Zapper Makers Claim TV Industry Is Being 'Short-Sighted' Well, gee. Excuse the broadcast industry for being touchy about a device that would "zap" its life's blood.

The people who produce a DVR that blocks advertisements claimed Tuesday that the broadcast television industry isn't properly considering the future when denouncing their viewer-friendly innovation, the Associated Press reports.

Dish Network started offering its customers devices with the Auto Hop feature this past March. The new devices reportedly record all ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX programming with storage of up to eight days, and the cable giant claims - without any hard data of which to speak - that network viewing has hit practically unprecedented highs. Product Management Vice President Vivek Khemka calls it a "win-win" that's boosted network numbers while doing away with ad irritation for consumers.

There is a catch or two. The ads can't be skipped until 1 AM ET after the program airs. Additionally, the Auto Hop button must be used while recording, or the DVR will still record the ads. The device is already in an estimated 700,000 or so homes, according to the AP.

That's strictly an antecdotal claim by this point, mind. With traditional DVR devices, fast-forwarding is optional. There's at least a chance an ad may be seen. Auto Hop eliminates the possibility completely. Dish Network then turned the knife counter-clockwise by hyping the product to its 14 million or so customers amid fall-season network lineup announcements.

Well, they've tried, anyway. NBC and FOX won't touch ads promoting the new feature. NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert at Radio City Music Hall called the product "an insult to our joint investment in programming."

ABC Television Group President Paul Lee added "Ads are key to our business, so we're not supportive of anything that doesn't support our advertisers."

All in all, this almost certainly won't be remembered as a smart move by Dish Network. Even if people tune in increasingly to network television thanks to this feature, no advertisers in their right minds would actually give a major network money knowing that this product is out there to significatly reduce chances their commercials will be seen at all. Networks already successfully sued the makers of Replay TV in 2001 to put a stop to a similar feature, and probably figured that was the last they'd hear of such a thing.

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