Dish CEO calls CBS boss Moonves a 'bully' in ad-zapper dispute

Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:58pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - An executive war of words is escalating between Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton and CBS Corp boss Les Moonves over Dish's service that lets customers skip over commercials, the main revenue source for the broadcast networks such as CBS.

Speaking at an event in New York, Clayton took dead aim at Moonves, head of the No. 1 rated CBS broadcast network.

"Let me say this to Mr. Moonves and the broadcasters, they would be well advised to tune into the consumer," Clayton said.

Clayton added in an interview: "Mr. Moonves feels that he can bully the consumers and that he can bully his programming partners. I don't think that plays well."

Dish introduced a DVR called the Hopper earlier this year with an "autohop" function that allows subscribers to skip commercials automatically when they are watching recorded shows.

Dish maintains That the product is something consumers desperately want. But CBS and its broadcasting brethren -Disney's ABC, Comcast's NBC, and News Corp's FOX - argue that Dish, led by chairman Charles Ergen, is undermining the networks' key source of revenue: advertising.

In May, Dish, which ranks as the third-largest U.S. pay TV provider with 14 million subscribers, and the broadcast networks have traded lawsuits over the technology. Fox also asked a court in August to put a stop to Dish's product because it was hurting the TV network's business.

Clayton's comments came one day after Moonves, speaking at a Bank of America Corp conference, threatened to remove CBS from Dish's systems if it deploys the autohop feature on its "Hopper" DVR.   Continued...

The new CEO of DISH Joe Clayton speaks at a press event to introduce the company's new products and services at the Consumer Electronics Show opening in Las Vegas January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking