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Networks Battle Ad-Subbing Technology
[June 07, 2006]

Networks Battle Ad-Subbing Technology

(AP) Networks Battle Ad-Subbing Technology
By Nahal Toosi
The Associated Press
The major broadcast and cable networks are challenging the use of technology to substitute commercials shown during regular television programs at truck stops across the nation.

Flying J Inc. can get more than $30,000 a month for 30-second substitute spots, according to court papers. The substitute advertising often targets the demographic frequenting Flying J establishments, where truck drivers rest and refuel. For instance, there are promotions for the American Truckers Legal Association.

Flying J is able to insert the commercials using a device that can detect changes in the television feeds the company gets through EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network. Visitors watch the programming in televisions in the truck stops' restaurants and lounges.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN are among the networks that sued Flying J earlier this year, accusing it of violating copyright law and promoting unfair competition.

On Monday, Flying J sought to dismiss the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York. Flying J insisted its technology is akin to a remote control that lets users switch away from programming. It also said the device does not copy, modify or redistribute the incoming signal and thus does not constitute copyright infringement.

The device is offered by segOne Inc., which is not a defendant.

The networks say Flying J's actions harm their advertising-dependent business. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages and have asked the court to stop Flying J from airing the substitute ads.

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