back to article Dish Networks locks horns with broadcasters over ad skipping

In the latest episode of the US ad-skipping saga, Dish Networks is facing the wrath of broadcasters such as NBC and Fox, but winning praise from customers and no doubt causing a little churn among competitors. That at least is the intention of the Dish PVR ad skipping feature called Auto Hop, with the company gambling that the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

Nice

I would like DIsh to win this and set a precedent so that all of us can enjoy the programme we "WANT" without the intrusive (and often loud- in your face) pathetic, time wasting and diabolical adverts.

Keep their copyrights up their arses. There is no infringements on that. Stick it up, DIsh networks.

31
1
Silver badge

Re: Nice

Odd argument that they are altering the content so it is a copyright issue. As far as I can see the original content is not modified, all they do is allow you to see the bits you want and not the other bits.

Legislating against that would be bizarre as it would imply it is illegal to take a leak during the advert break!

26
1
Gold badge

Re: Nice

I think the point is who does the ad-skipping. Under the usual arrangement, someone providing the cable connection to your house cannot be sued for what you pull down the cable. If these people are changing the content before it reaches you, they suddenly find themselves in the position of "broadcaster" and liable for everything.

This "I'm just a carrier" exemption is the same one that protects usenet servers and ISPs from legal liability for the rantings of random idiots who use the service. I think it is a good thing and I wish we had it here (*), so I would be saddened if the behaviour of Dish Networks caused a furore that eventually led to a change in the law.

(* At least, this is my UK-based non-lawyer understanding of the situation in the US. I dare say someone will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong. AFAIK, the UK has no concept of protected status for carriers and we've had some rather daft lawsuits as a result.)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice

They are not complaining about you seeing their content. They are complaining about you not seeing somebody else's content. Can there really be a law that insists on that?

3
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

Re: Nice

Agreed, they should have copyright shoved so far up their asses, it just might come out of their noses.

If all Dish did was to send specific "cues" in the data stream that identifies specific points; like "begin commercial block", "end commercial block", and nothing else. Thereby leaving the "blocking" decision to the end viewer, then fuck the networks. That would be no different from what can happen right now (manual editing). Simple viewer instruction, change this setting to block adverts.

They may have a problem if the advert bits get dropped before they hit Dish's network, but IANAL.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Nice

Would Dish agree to compensate the content producers for revenue lost by removing the adverts?

Also, I wonder if it would not possible to resort to some sort of EULA to first make the advert-skipping a contravention of license, and then sue for violation of the license if the adverts were removed.

0
2

Re: Nice

Whilst I'd like to think that Dish, and others in the future, would be vindicated, you should also see where such technology will ultimately lead.

Once the money from adverts is reduced, there will be a move towards in program advertising instead, much like the US has a lot of those "coming next" annoying banners, so it will only be a matter of time until you get ones that say "Buy this crap!" instead.

1
0
Silver badge
Linux

Re: Nice

I don't think it's really a copyright issue. Otherwise, a lot of cable providers would already be in trouble. Cable operators quite routinely overwrite the commercials coming from the original feed. One cable company I had even managed to eat into the actual shows. It was terribly annoying.

I don't see this as any different than what cable operators have already been doing.

Since Dish is forced to pay for these channels, they should be able to do what they like with the commercials. I don't think broadcasters should be able to have it both ways. If the commercials are valuable enough that they can be protected by law, then they should not have any right to demand payment for retransmission.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice

In-programme banners won't really help in the long run. People skip the ads because they've become intolerably irritating; if the banner thing gets too intrusive (and I suspect "intrusive" has a very low threshold in this case) people will just turn over. An awful lot of programming is not watched because its actually any good, but simply because people want to veg out, so '"bbc hospital" probably ticks many of the same boxes as "itv hospital" but without a scratchy little irritant crawling across the screen every 30 seconds.

Product placement might well be the other big stick that's threatened, but it's similarly handicapped by the WTF factor. 25% of a dramas dialogue spent fawning over the culinary superiority of a tin of beans will make the programme itself unwatchable, doubly so if they've sponsored half of ITV's output. If they don't make it sufficiently obvious (and therefore cumulatively irritating) no one will notice. I might be unusual, but I personally couldn't give a rats arse what brand of coffee or laptop a sitcom character uses, so to make me notice the "product" would have to yell very loudly.

0
0

Re: Nice

In the UK its true, in-programme banners wont help as much, but where you have pretty much 100% ad supported channels, you wouldnt be able to escape them.

It is further complicated by channels just being carried, rather than owned, by whoever is showing them, as the owner sells the ad space, not the carrier.

Tbh, Id almost prefer in-programme banners, at least that way what im watching doesnt get interupted every 10mins.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice

I think a legal issue could be that Dish supplies the receiver, so they can't really say that it's the customer doing it when it depends on analysis done by the receiver.

I expect a win for the broadcasters.

0
0
Coffee/keyboard

Re: Nice

What's the big deal, advertisers complaing that they can't force people to watch ads in the same week that General Motors removes all Facebook advertising "because no-one clicks on ads on the social network" i.e. nobody pays any attention to the ads.

Seems to me that all dish are doing is saving companies like GM money.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Re: Nice

AS FAR AS IM CONCERNED SKIPPING A COMMERCIAL IS JUST LIKE DOWNLOADING A MOVIE YOUR A PIRATE AND SHOULD BE IN JAIL

0
2
WTF?

How far does the storage requirement go?

You have a "copy" for everyone that selects it to be recorded but what happens if that's stored on a storage solution that does de-duplication. It's the same result but is it different legally to having a catalogue?

8
0
Silver badge

Re: How far does the storage requirement go?

The 'legality' is probably something that engineers can't begin to understand the dumbness of, but I guess they can't argue against a de-dupe system as all of the copies are logically separate in the sense you can modify one without altering anyone else's "copy".

So today a mid-high end storage system could de-dupe this effectively and save a *lot* of space at the usual expense of having to have enough RAM for the de-dupe hash tables, which is hardly an issue now.

4
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: How far does the storage requirement go?

The impression given in the article was that the "separate copy" rule was a compromise hammered out to avoid further legal wrangling. The deal went something like "You agree to pay a load more money on pointless copies or else we take you back to court, for something or other.". If that's correct, then de-duping the storage would be a violation of the very essence of the agreement.

0
2
Bronze badge
Pirate

Re: How far does the storage requirement go?

I see your point, but an equally valid point could be is that you are using industry standard storage gear which happens to do stuff (dedupe) so it can put more stuff on it but to you it's a black box as you can change somebody's copy and other peoples' will stay the same.

Still, it seems like a lawyer's paradise...

2
0
Boffin

Re: How far does the storage requirement go?

Why de-dupe the data, compress it.

For example a compression method such as fractal compression, while expensive to perform the compression, is very quick to decompress. I know fractal compression is lossy, but then so is MPEG-2.

I'd imagine the space saving with 100 episodes of the latest episode of <insert name of program> in the same archive would be quite considerable.

0
0
Facepalm

Re: How far does the storage requirement go?

Shit!!!!!, I should have patented that before I posted that.....

0
0
Holmes

Will it work in the UK

See the title.

0
0
Flame

Subscription TV

I used to pay the "evil Murdoch empire" a subscription to watch TV and then had to sit through yards of adverts. The economic reality is that someone has to pay for the programmes and I do feel some sympathy for the networks*, but following several trips to the states I can see why people need an add-skip.

U.S commercial TV is a powerful ecosystem and you'd expect Dish will get a good kicking in the courts.

Lawyers are (even now) ordering new yachts bought from the proceeds of this.

*except for the Fox network.

3
1
h3
Bronze badge

Re: Subscription TV

It is a powerful ecosystem but there should be the option to pay just for what you want adfree and with a decent cost. (Relative to the cost of the programming).

If I was in the US I would probably only want HBO. (Wouldn't pay for all the rest of the stuff I don't want).

Great content doesn't even have to be expensive to make see something like.

Jerome Bixby’s - The Man From Earth (It consists entirely of about 10 people in a house just talking.)

The way things are set up by all the cable / satellite companies (This one being the only good exception).

Everywhere seems to be fairly corrupt these days. (And stuff like anti trust doesn't seem to be applied in a fair manner.)

3
0

Commercial stations...

Any commercial TV broadcasts that I want to watch are recorded specifically so I can speed through the adverts. In fact, I've got so used to being able to do it that it's painful to return to watching live commercial TV. Of course by putting the sponsor bookends around the adverts the companies are actually facilitating skipping through the ads because they're easy to spot even when winding through at high speed.

So having a skip button would be nice, but it won't mean I'll stop seeing adverts. Personally, I'd prefer to be able to record the programs without adverts in the first place. Even if it meant a small annual subscription.

3
0
Gold badge

Re: Commercial stations...

Doesn't *everybody* do this now? And if so, why is *anyone* paying to advertise on commercial channels these days?

Or perhaps the advertisers think they have found a self-selecting audience of stupid people who might therefore be susceptible to ads. Yes, I think I see how that might work. A bit unethical, though.

1
0

Re: Commercial stations...

I remember some arrogant cretin of a network executive coming up with the unbelievable statement that skipping the ads was equivalent to stealing the programming.

My PVR doesn't do a fixed-period skip so I run through them on fast-forward (30x). Oddly, research shows that the impact and retention of advertising material at this speed is much the same as if you watch them at normal speed. TBH, advertisers are better off if I don't watch their rubbish because on the odd occasion that I notice an ad it is usually because it has annoyed me so much I will never use that product again. I haven't eaten Shredded Wheat breakfast cerial for about 40 years because one of their jingles got up my nose so much.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Fat moustachioed opera singers

I never watch live TV if I can avoid it, not even the news. I leave my receiver on the news channel overnight and then rewind and fast forward in the morning.

But every now and again I'll be out of the room when the advert breaks come on and that fat moustachioed bastard starts belting out his ditty. I would happily pay for any equipment/subscription that ensured I never had to watch or listen to that advert again. Those opposing Dish Networks should be forced to watch and listen to a continuous stream of the advert.

0
0
Bronze badge
Megaphone

Re: Commercial stations...

I've been timeshifting programs for the specific purpose of skipping ads exer since IQ (that's Sky+ for the Brits) turned up in Oz. Before that I'd simply record stuff on the HDD recorder and start watching 20 minutes in.

Here in Oz we already get the half screen in programme banners advertising programmes you wouldn't watch with a gun to your head, but they're pretty much limited to two broadcast channels at the moment. TBH, they're more irritating than the constant commercial breaks (Channel 9 can get an hour of commercials plus two sports updates into a 90 minute film), precisely because they're so intrusive.

Timeshifting is here to stay, and the industry needs to look for some way to raise revenue other than spamverts, maybe a subscription model.

0
0
Thumb Up

Great Article

It's been a long time since i read such a well informed, written and balanced article on the reg.

re but legally operators have to maintain a separate physical copy for each user - i would have thought that these days a bit of dedupe at file system level would be sufficient?

1
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: Great Article

There seems to be a failure of understanding somewhere. Does it matter if I keep 1 copy then photocopy on demand VS keep a billion copies that "might" be needed? One is manageable, the other crazy.

Guess which one the law prefers...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

It's not ads that are the problem

It's the sheer volume of them. Haven't had to sit through US tv it's appaling. A 35 min program should not take an hour to watch. Typical american viewing:

Hello and welcome to.....

We have a great show lined up for you and we'll be right back after this break

Welcome back my guests tonight are....

And we'll be speaking to them right after this break

It's just too much and we are heading the same way in the UK if the broadcasters get their way.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

They keep saying that ad revenue is dropping, so they need more ads.

When you get to the point that people will spend money to avoid the ads, more ads is not the answer.

It's not even just the normal 30 second ads, where we used to get movies, old show reruns, kids cartoons now we get 30 minute ads for wonder blenders, fat fighting magic, and bowling ball sucking vacuum cleaners (that is a bunch of worthless crap).

8
0

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

It is much the same in the UK. It used to be that if you clipped the ads out of a 2 hour program you were left with 100-105 minutes of programming. Nowadays you are lucky to get much over 90 (and that includes 90 the credits which probably have voice-over ads for upcoming programs). The old 2-breaks for 1 hour and 3 for 2 scheme has become 3 and 4 respectively, with the extra break stuck in near the end for maximum exposure. This is particularly a problem with older programs where they shoehorn the extra break in with no regard to content.

"And the murderer was"

<5 mins advertising>

"Colonel Mustard in the TV room with the fatally boring advert".

5
0
Silver badge

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

That ain't the end of it. Some networks now shoehorn ads INLINE with the show so you can't avoid it without skipping part of the show. And mind you, this is on CABLE networks, too, where you'd think they'd get enough from the distribution chains.

1
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

"It is much the same in the UK"

Not quite. Until recently, there was a fixed limit on the number and duration od commercial ad breaks. Different thresholds for terrestrial and sat channels.

Recently, the rules changed. Now, the total number of minutes allowed for commercial ads is the same as it's been for some years now, but, and it's a BIG BUT, the number of ad minutes is averaged out over 24 hours.

The result of this is more and longer ad breaks at peak times, shorter and less ad breaks at off peak times.

This is most noticable, IME, on the sat channels where the over night/early morning programmes will have very short "ad" breaks which play a couple of "coming soon" trailers and no commercials at all.

This has resulted in me sometimes spending a little more time looking for repeats of programmes and recording to 2am showing instead and watching even less than the minimal amount of "live" TV I was still sometimes watching.

Now, if the ad-hop thing does get blasted out of existence, maybe it could be resurected such that it detects the start of the ad beak and turns the volume down a couple of notches to make the ad sound track the same level as the programme sound track (mute would be preferable, but if they lose the ad-hop fight I suspect they'd also lose an Ad Mute fight too.)

On the other hand, I think it will all come down to the definition of a "programme". Are the ads part of the main programme or are they seperate "mini" programmes ion their own right? I would suggest that since TV ads have their own annual awards ceremonies then they are effectively seperate "programmes" from the one they happen to interupt during broadcast.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

Anyone remember the F1 grand prix a few yrs ago, with the 2 championship leaders dicing wheel to wheel with 5 laps to go<CUT> ad break <Back to race> and thats a stunning win for Alonso

I suppose its a fine line to be walked, between getting the viewers to watch, and pissing them off so much with ad breaks , they all switch over

2
0

Re: It's not ads that are the problem

The US Congress has already passed a law requiring broadcasters to stop turning the volume up during ad breaks!

The CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act was passed in December 2010, but broadcasters are still legally allowed to pump up the volume during the ads - we'll see if the law actually works in December 2012!

http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/When-And-How-The-Calm-Act-Will-Be-Enforced.htm

0
0
Thumb Up

Logical Conclusion

I can do the Dish box one better by simply skipping through the "content" as well. Commercial TV is not worth the trouble, even with the paid spots removed.

7
0

Re: Logical Conclusion

No commercial TV? Is it BBC all the way for you?

1
0
WTF?

So Called?

"... so called 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ..."

What brought on this particular surge of venom?

I thought the 2nd Circuit was a well respected institution. Perhaps Faultline, a so called consulting firm, should have the work of their so called writers vetted by a so called editor before its published.

3
0
Silver badge

Perhaps because it's not really circuit?

Some circuit courts are actually spread over many locations which judges have to travel between, but the 2nd Circuit is only a single courthouse.

But I'm guessing it was really just because the term circuit court might be unfamiliar to some readers outside the US.

1
0
Silver badge

To show how bad it is in the US, when BBC-America shows Top Gear in its entirety, it's an hour and 20 minutes long. 33% of the show is commercials. And they wonder why I canceled my cable service.

4
0

"33% of the show is commercials."

Erm, 25% actually - unless US hours are only 40 minutes long :)

4
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Well, according to the first sentence of this article, which says "Apple’s iCloud service crashed for ninety minutes on Monday, US time" it seems that Overpuddlian time may indeed differ from hours - though how by much isn't made clear.

Perhaps you've worked it out. :)

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Yeah, they base their hour on the Greek working hour rather than the English working hour. Similar to the wine/ale gallon thing :-)

Mnes the one with the metric rular in the pocket. 10 inches long.

1
1
Coat

Someone has to pay...

This is usually the argument against free-tards and other people rubbishing the networks. Yes. Someone has to pay.

I agree totally. Either adverts. Or subscription. Or a blend of both.

What these networker execs and apologists don't realise is that maybe people are fed-up.

- Fed-up because the adverts are so noxious.

- Fed-up because since 1994 since we first had Sky in my home, he's seen the sub fee go up from £24 / month to a whopping £79 (that's all channels). That's a 229% increase in just under 20 years. Yes, it's gone digital, and we have Sky + boxes now, and HD tv streams. But as technology matures aren't prices meant to become commoditised / go down? Is there anyone out there that can actually justify >200% increase in price?

- Fed-up because the adverts have become longer, louder and more frequent.

- Fed-up, because to support adverts, networks will actually cut parts of films to stick to their advert schedule

- Fed-up because Pay-TV has pushed up the price for important events and shows for national broadcasters, therefore pushing up the sub cost.

- Fed-up because most people would actually be reasonable if the broadcasters weren't so fugging greedy. How about just one advert break in a 30 minute show?

- Fed-up, because much like the practice of raising the volume for singles on the radio so they sounded louder than the last, fed-up up that your fugging adverts come on louder than the program I was just watching.

- Fed-up that you invade the base reason I watch TV dramas - to escape reality, with fugging product advertising.

I have absolutely no sympathy. Why do they think ad-blockers are so popular on browsers. Because they're invasive, obnoxious and way too frequent. If they rescinded their greed and offered quality programming all the time, people might tolerate their shit advertising a wee bit more.

Death to sales & marketing goons.

26
0
Windows

Re: Someone has to pay...

Couldn't agree more. Why they stoke the volume up by 4x defeats me. If I can't find the remote sharpish late at night, I'm in danger of a swift nack in the kickers from the big bloke next door, who has to leave for work at 03:00. OK, it's kinda useful - ish, in the sense that Girlie and I go for a smoke on the balcony, sound turned down so we can (just) hear some unidentifiable noise from the ads. When we can't anymore, go back inside and the film's just responded.

(They'll be saying the TV remote "Mute" button infringes copyright next).

What they haven't seemed to grasp is the adverts, after time, just get mentally ignored, and have minimal effect.

Not to knock Americans at all here, but it's just soooo FUC*KING-IN-YOUR-FACE! It's like the drill sergeant standing an inch away, and yelling at you at the top of his voice. Muppet. After all, what nation came up with unanted pop-ups? Take Windows-xp as an example. Every time I boot, dozens of little balloons appear telling me (I kid you not, on my machine anyway) "New hardware detected: Disk drive" "New hardware detected: CD ROM" etc.

Who was that cretin a few years back who stated on a tv show to the effect that "Not watching ads. is theft!"?

7
0

Re: Someone has to pay...

I think McCoatover hit the biggest issue for me, the volume of the adverts compared to the program is just ridiculous (although the show intros are ridiculous as well, but that's another rant). What I don't get is that if I'm only 1/2 paying attention to the show, by say reading el reg, when the commercial comes on it triggers me to skip if recorded or hit the mute button if live.

0
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Ad volume

Apparently the Dutch TV stations self-regulated for once or something or perhaps it was our dear government saying "we can do this the soft way or...", but over here ad volume has been reduced till it's more or less normal.

What a relief.

Only now, every ad comes with some annoying little song/melody which is almost as irritating...

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Ad volume

In Canada they require that the volume be the same, so they run the ads through dynamic range compression so they read the same on a VU meter, but sound louder to your ear.

They always find a way to be irritating.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Someone has to pay...

"Not to knock Americans at all here, but it's just soooo FUC*KING-IN-YOUR-FACE! It's like the drill sergeant standing an inch away, and yelling at you at the top of his voice. Muppet. After all, what nation came up with unanted pop-ups? Take Windows-xp as an example. Every time I boot, dozens of little balloons appear telling me (I kid you not, on my machine anyway) "New hardware detected: Disk drive" "New hardware detected: CD ROM" etc."

Why? Because these kinds of adverts were BORN in America. As a result, Americans have been exposed to so much of it that they become innured, meaning advertisers need flashier and flashier ways to get your attention. And it's been this way for a LONG time. I recall a chapter in a science fiction novel in which a billboard gets someone's attention by a major light show. The novel was E. E. Smith's "First Lensman," a book Older Than Television, yet it shows the kind of thinking advertisers faced then AND now: how do you draw the attention of people who otherwise wouldn't want anything to do with you (or to paraphrase from a certain TV infomercial, how do you make the fish bite when it isn't hungry)?

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums