DISH Network Chairman Charlie Ergen has indicated that his company introduced its Hopper ad-skipping DVR in an effort to level the playing field between traditional TV and Internet TV. In an interview with today's (Friday) Wall Street Journal , Ergen said said that the advent of cheap or free Internet video threatens the pay-TV ecosystem and that the networks that are taking legal action against him are partially to blame for the threat from Internet video since they themselves offer free access to shows online, with fewer commercials than are aired on TV. The networks' arguments against Hopper are therefore "disingenuous," he said. Ergen indicated that he's still trying to figure out a fair business model in which the Hopper technology can be beneficial to tall concerned. "If the ad is skipped, the consumer likes it, but it's not necessarily good for me and it's not necessarily good for the broadcaster because I'm in the same ecosystem as him," he said. "So we have to figure out how the broadcaster benefits, we benefit and the consumer continues to feel like he gets a fair deal."
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MADAGASCAR 3 VS. PROMETHEUS WHO'LL WIN? This weekend's box-office race is likely to be tight. For the most part, forecasters are predicting that Prometheus and Madagascar 3 Europe's Most Wanted will each take in around $50-55 million but that the cartoon will wind up edging out the sci-fi flick. Indeed, Daily Variety is predicting that Madagascar 3 will haul in $65 million. Paramount and Dreamworks executives figure that it will sell around $45 million worth of tickets. Several forecasters observe that predicting interest in animated films is a dicey affair, since tracking pollsters don't interview kids. But the movie obviously faces some tough hurdles ahead of it, not the least of which is the fact that nearly all animated sequels have been making disappointing debuts for more than a year, opening well below their forerunners. Oddly, 20th Century Fox, which is releasing Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, is saying that the movie will earn only around $30 million but will begin to take off as word-of-mouth spreads about it. The film has been playing very well abroad, where it opened a week ago in a move to avoid competition with the Euro 2012 soccer championships.