Now That Mandates Are Effectively Legal, Here is The Next One

You have to watch politicians' commercials

The Dish Network, in its continuing effort to attract new viewers, introduced a new DVR called the Hopper earlier this year. The Hopper's main appeal is that it allows you to skip past commercials entirely, and unsurprisingly, TV networks aren't very happy about this. But guess who else is unhappy?

At a Wednesday hearing on video distribution held by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, [Rep. John Dingell, D–Clueless] complained that the service will allow potential voters to skip past important commercial messages.

"I've got an election coming up, like all my colleagues," Dingell said, during his questioning of Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen. "We all put political ads on the local stations to reach our constituents. The Hopper potentially limits the ability of every member of this subcommittee to reach constituents to help them make up their minds on Election Day.

"Do you understand and appreciate the concerns that the politicians up here on the dais and other politicians everywhere will feel about that, yes or no?" Dingell asked.

  • anoNY

    How will the voters get their smiling, diverse families contrasted with evil, black-and-white footage of his opponents?

  • NL_

    "Brazen" is the only response that comes to mind. I'm sure politicians care, but are the rest of us supposed to be moved?

    Also seems to run counter to the usual argument that money ruins politics. He's arguing that it's good when he can buy political ads. I can only assume Dingell has decided to fully support Citizens United and the principle that everybody should be able to buy political ads - not just incumbents.

  • http://soundsofsolarno.com Jim Furey

    We must be careful with allowing people to skip ads. The law of unintended consequences states that if ads are skipped then the buyers of those now useless ads will find creative ways to place their propaganda directly into the broadcast shows. I for one do not need to see Snooki or the Kardashians 'discussing' which detergent or politician is the better choice.

    /semi-sarc off

    I for one have not had cable, dish, or even an antenna for over a decade and my life is much better for it. I love Netflix but would hate to see them go the Hulu route and start slipping adverts in now and again.

  • gn

    People who want stuff free *AND* completely void of advertisements are going to be disappointed in the long run.

  • Brandon Berg

    I thought for sure that that link was going to take me to the Onion. Congress is now officially beyond parody.

  • Methinks

    First of all, I will PAY to not see Dingell or any of his dingbat political %@#%bags. Second, I don't watch live TV precisely so that I can blow past commercials. Unless it's a cat commercial and then my husband forces me to watch it. But anyway, Dingballs has nothing to worry about. No matter what his ad says, I'll happily trade him for a thousand stray rabid dogs. Those bitches would certainly be less destructive than a single Dingellpoo.

    Also, for all the people warning of the dangers of avoiding advertising (can't tell who is serious and who isn't), avoiding Dingellberry's ads is an OPTION. The great thing about options is that you are under no obligation to exercise them. So, if you prefer, you are free to watch Dingellsplat gumming his political opponent. In fact, the beauty of a DVR is you can rewind it and watch it again and again and again (until you are finally filled with an appropriate amount of revulsion and horror).

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Equally likely: The Affordable Housing Act

    Since the Obamascare “ruling” ( ? ) held that taxing inactivity is now perfectly constitutional, why not soak up all that idle vacant housing leftover from the bubble (or lobby to build more, if you’re a developer) by taxing people who aren’t buying houses?

    Don’t qualify with a lender? No problem, government mandates those standards, too.

    Think Fannie & Freddie are dead?! Think again.

  • Jake Cordova

    Why don’t CBS, FOX, and NBC execs want consumers to enjoy commercial-free TV? It’s what we want! I’m a customer and employee of Dish, and I think Auto Hop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. A well known consumer advocacy group, Public Knowledge, agrees that people should have the right to control how they watch TV. They’re taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, and NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room and DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV http://bit.ly/KFdn1Q

  • a_random_guy

    "if ads are skipped then the buyers of those now useless ads will find creative ways to place their propaganda directly into the broadcast shows"

    Um...they already do, didn't you know? It's called "product placement". When you see an actor drinking a bottle of Coke, or you see a Pepsi machine in the background, or a Dr. Pepper billboard flash by as the actors drive down the road - you can bet that the respective companies paid good money.

    Sometimes they can't sell a spot that was intended for product placement, and you may notice the actors are using/consuming some product which has no recognizable label.

  • Doug

    Dovetails nicely with an earlier Coyote posting about how money is NOT the root of all evil (in politics, at least), but POWER is. How much shakedown money do you think this not-so-subtle threat to Dish will yield to Dingbat's coffers?

  • http://mpc-blog.blogspot.com Matt

    John Dingell: One of the 500-something luminaries who may now mandate pretty much anything they wish as long as it is enforced by a penalty-tax.

  • caseyboy

    Why do incumbents need to advertise? It is the challenger that needs airtime to establish some name recognition. The incumbent can call a local press conference about some nebulous issue and garner broadcast time and news print. I would think incumbents might want to accelerate the Hopper's introduction into more homes by taxing those that do not have it.

  • tomw

    Be careful what you wish for. The "Do Not Call" thingy had a loophole for politicians that allows their authority to place un-solicited calls. They will leave the same thing for TV if allowed.
    OTOH, if you get annoyed enough, you may be mad enough to guarantee you'll go to the polls just to get rid of the intrusive adverts sponsors.
    tom

  • http://onthenorthriver.com John the River

    I've got bad news for you, the technology exists to do exactly what Dingell (a notable crook) wants.

    Remember the first time you played a DVD and found you couldn't skip or FF over the "FBI will get you screen"? Not much later the disk manufacturers found that they could use the same code (that all DVD players were compelled to implement) to force you to watch and listen to the damn "BluRay is great!" annoyances. Some disks I own went beyond that, all previews and coming attractions could not be skipped (Disney, cough, cough!).

    Since we have let the ruling class know that we will not protest about those examples what will stop them from demanding the same protection for their political ads by not allowing DVR's to use the FF or skip, and TV's that will NOT allow you to use the "mute".

    There was a SCIFI story a long time ago about a future in which the nation held a lottery; each year the names of all elected officials had to be in a poll, and two names were drawn, top vote getter got to skip the next election and just serve another term, the bottom guy got hung. Immediately. And then there was a party.

    Sound good?

  • caseyboy

    @John the River - I'd settle for electric dog collars for the politicians allowing responsible citizens like me to throw the switch when I'm annoyed (or just need a yuck).

  • el coronado

    All you need to know about what's wrong with the system can be personified in the name "John Dingell". John Dingell Sr. and his whiny, entitled little sonny John Junior have been 'representing' Michigan's 15th District (IIRC) since 1933. 80 frickin' YEARS. Is there any wonder he thinks he's special and you're not?

  • DoctorT

    @John the River:

    One of the things I do with Disney DVDs is rip them, reset the flag that prevents skipping the crap, and burn a new DVD. The original becomes the backup.

  • John A

    Commercial-skipping came up back-when, in the Betamax video-recorder circus. When an NBC executive said skipping commercials aired by NBC amounted to stealing from NBC, he was asked if watching NBC was "stealing" the time from CBS and ABC by not wayching their commercials. Red faces all around.

  • IGotBupkis, Serial AGW Denier and Bon Vivant

    Joh's right -- VCRs had this technology about 20-odd years ago. It mysteriously disappeared as a feature. I remember having an RCA VHS model that would do a pretty good job of FF through the commercials. It occasionally missed the "blanking interval" that they key in on but not too often.

  • IGotBupkis, Serial AGW Denier and Bon Vivant

    >>> "will find creative ways to place their propaganda directly into the broadcast shows."

    dude, they already do this. It's called "product placement". Moreover, the number of shows that now have obnoxious crap ads at the bottom of the screen for other shows is legion.

  • IGotBupkis, Serial AGW Denier and Bon Vivant

    >>> Remember the first time you played a DVD and found you couldn’t skip or FF over the “FBI will get you screen”? Not much later the disk manufacturers found that they could use the same code (that all DVD players were compelled to implement) to force you to watch and listen to the damn “BluRay is great!” annoyances. Some disks I own went beyond that, all previews and coming attractions could not be skipped (Disney, cough, cough!).

    Simple solution -- buy them, then download a pirate copy with all the adverts removed. Then watch the pirate copy. You're not doing anything illegal -- at least not yet.

  • http://onthernorthriver.com John

    "One of the things I do with Disney DVDs is rip them, reset the flag that prevents skipping the crap, and burn a new DVD. The original becomes the backup."

    And it occurs to me that we wouldn't need to do that, or even bother to learn how, if the Content Providers hadn't decided to treat us all with contempt. But it would be more efficient to hack the player to ignore the code or even respond by skipping over the section with it.

    But we digress from the main point, and that point is Dingall is a A&& who needs to be voted out of office.

  • Ariel

    Yep, we are held in contempt. Only because these dinosaurs (I'm their age for God's sake) have no idea about the rest of us (really, you just scan the prices in?). Hate to tell Ding-a-ling, but with my little recordo box it just takes me one more step. I leave the "live" show on to build time while I watch a shorter recorded show. So after "How I Met Your Mother", where I fast-forwarded through all the commercials, I can go back and watch the other show and fast-forward through all the commercials. When Ding-a-ling catches on we'll all be stuck with "real" time. After all, his livelihood, the ability to amass a fortune he could never achieve otherwise, must be protected for the sake of the Republic.

    Congress, a step behind the rest of us except for insider trading where they have the inside track and always finish first.

  • Rocky

    The TV commercial as we know it will be a thing of the past in 5 years. This will be replaced by the continuous bi-line running at the bottom of the screen. The sponsor of the program will have an uninterrupted add for the entirety of the show.

  • NormD

    ReplayTVs have had auto commercial skip since around 2000.

    People that hype product placement to miss the fact that TV shows go into syndication. Why is a syndicator going to show a five year old show containing five year old products? They want to put current commercials into the shows.

  • IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States

    >>> People that hype product placement to miss the fact that...

    I'm sorry, you seem to have confused us with people who give a rat's ass about commercials in the first place?

    You've also missed out on the discussions (not here -- in tech fora) of updatable product placements in "live" tv. No reason that can't be done with netflix-type accessing of older programs as well as syndication.

  • http://www.aaronmbrown.net/blog AMB

    This Hopper thing is terrible and must be stopped! If we don't see commercials, how will we ever know about political rising stars like Clint Webb?!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ5cGYBV2TQ

    Clint Webb for Senate!

  • Bergman

    Hey, on the day it becomes illegal to ignore anything someone says to you, you'd better believe I'm going to give a few politicians a piece of my mind, and/or have them arrested for not paying full attention.