- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dish Network Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen says his company’s ad-skipping DVR, the Hopper, has a side benefit: It keeps children from watching ads about junk food and alcohol.

Ergen made the comments before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on Wednesday.

“Allowing your kids to watch TV doesn’t have to mean they have no choice but to see commercials for junk food and alcohol,” he said, according to prepared remarks.

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish is in a legal fight with CBS, NBC and Fox over its Hopper digital video recorder.

Flip on the set-top box’s “PrimeTime Anytime” service, and the machine records four hours of TV every night from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox while stripping out commercials.

The broadcasters suing Dish say the service is unauthorized and violates licensing agreements. Dish has said its service is not much different from how people use other DVRs.

Spokesmen for CBS and Fox declined to comment on Ergen’s remarks. An NBC spokesman had no comment immediately and an ABC spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Ergen also used his time before lawmakers to request an overhaul of rules that allow free-to-air broadcasters to pull their signal from pay-TV distributors if they are unable to reach agreements on price.

Although such rules do not cover networks that are offered only on pay TV services, his comments come just days before the July 1 expiration of an agreement Dish has with AMC Networks Inc., which puts out shows like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”

AMC was warned that Dish’s 14 million subscribers will lose access to its channels as of July 1 if the two sides don’t come to a deal. Dish says AMC is asking for too much money and that its shows don’t garner large audiences.

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