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McAdams On: Hopping

At least Dish deserves credit for launching its new commercialskipping set-top, with commercials you definitely want to skip. One view of a house full of Southies yelling, “Hahppa,” sufficiently pegs the annoying scale.

Dish knew its Hopper was a lawsuit dressed as a feature-rich satellite receiver. It only skips commercials on “playback of certain HD primetime shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC with the PrimeTime Anytime feature,” according to the Dish marketing flackage. PrimeTime Anytime automatically stores primetime broadcast programming for up to eight days.

Why doesn’t it skip cable network commercials, too? Because that wouldn’t have raised as much public animosity toward broadcasters in the retransmission arena. Predictably, broadcast networks sued and Hoak Media of Dallas pulled 14 stations off of Dish, which responded that, “Hoak doesn’t respect customer control.”

Meanwhile, D.C. lobby Public Knowledge is inciting a campaign accusing broadcasters of “trampling innovation.”

“We want on-demand shows and live broadcasting. We want control over when and how we watch TV. And we want to be able to fast forward and rewind recorded programming in ways that are convenient to us,” the P.K. campaign letter says. “These are not unreasonable expectations because we know that networks make significant money from satellite and cable operators who then pass on the cost to us through our bill.”

Whose playbook is that from, I do not wonder.

Why would an alleged public-interest advocacy group consistently oppose free, over-the-air TV? The CEA is on the board, as is former FCC chair and broadcast hater, Reed Hundt, as an emeritus member. That’s why.

At the end of the day, the “Hahhpa” is nothing more than a way for Dish to squeeze more money out of its customers, while obscuring that fact by inciting a lawsuit peripheral to retrans.

The broadcast networks sure won’t feel the windfall after the Hopper’s “introductory” prices wear off.