Originally published: May 28, 2012
Last updated: May 28, 2012 - 8:19pm
Does Charlie Ergen really want to blow up the TV business, using his ad-skipping “Auto Hop” feature? Like everyone else in America, Ergen likes TV, a lot. He just wants to pay less to watch it.
TV programmers have been able to push up the price for their shows, year after year, even as the audience for those shows gets smaller and smaller. Their latest move: Convincing pay-TV operators to pay them “retrans” fees for the four broadcast networks, which are theoretically supposed to be available to anyone in the country, free of charge. The pay-TV operators have been taking those fees and passing them along to consumers, because it’s easier to do that than anything else. And in that context, Ergen’s ad-skipping feature makes a lot of sense, because it freaks the networks out, for obvious reasons. So if the courts let it stand, then Ergen finally has real leverage when it comes to fees: If the networks won’t lower them, he’ll torch their ads.
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