Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Dish’s Charlie Ergen Says He Doesn’t Want to Kill Ads, for Real

The new version of Dish’s Hopper lets customers watch any show they’ve paid to see, on any device they want, when and where they want to watch it. Broadcasters were already suing Dish over the device, and in the case of CBS, it prevented subsidiary CNET from awarding the device top prize at CES. (For his part, Walt Mossberg preemptively awarded the gadget the D: Dive Into Media best-in-show award, which is fictional.)

Dish Chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen said tonight that he’s not out to kill ads, and he’s not seeking leverage over broadcasters. He’s simply pushing past old one-size-fits-all TV modes of advertising — while being careful to stay within the lines by fully recording original broadcasts from satellite transponders before enabling ad-skipping.

Speaking at D: Dive Into Media this evening, Ergen said, “I don’t want to kill ads. I think advertising is great, and I’m very aware that there’s multiple revenue streams in television, subscription and advertising. But I also don’t want to put my head in the sand, and I think the world is changing.”

He added, “If we’re going to take a side, let’s take the side of the consumer.” That means doing things like letting watchers choose between ads, as Hulu does, Ergen said.

“A single mom may not need that testosterone ad that runs time and time again; she may want something about fashion,” he said.

Ergen posed his ongoing litigation with broadcasters as a battle for the future of commercials. “If the broadcasters were to win on their claims, they’d outlaw the DVR,” he said.

Dish is a different breed, according to Ergen. “As a company, we’re hobbyists. We hope to make money, but if we make good products, we’ll make money. As a company, you have two choices — you can fight change or you can embrace change. And I believe it’s less risky long-term to embrace change.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald