January 11, 2013
The Internet's leading technology site removed the Dish Hopper from consideration as one of CNET's "Best of CES" products, citing litigation involving its corporate parent, CBS Corp. CNET had posted a review of the new Dish Hopper with Sling digital video recorder, unveiled earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, under a headline that described it as a gadget that "almost has it all." The device, which allows consumers to record shows, skip commercials and watch live or recorded programs on their Internet-connected tablets, smartphones and PCs, was named by the tech site as one of the best of show.
CBS Interactive issued a statement that the Dish device had been removed from consideration because of the ongoing lawsuit. CBS and two other broadcasters, Fox and NBC, allege that Dish Hopper's "AutoHop" feature, which identifies the commercial breaks within recordings of network shows and automatically skips them during playback, violates copyright laws. "We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product," CBS Interactive spokeswoman Rosabel Tao said in an email.
Dish issued a statement criticizing CBS for exercising editorial "interference." "We are saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS' heavy-handed tactics. This action has nothing to do with the merits of our new product. Hopper with Sling is all about consumer choice and control over the TV experience," DISH CEO and President Joe Clayton said in a statement. "That CBS, which owns CNET.com, would censor that message is insulting to consumers." Los Angeles Times
Utility companies from across Pennsylvania on Thursday said lessons learned from major storms in 2011 helped them prepare for the record-setting damage and power outages wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
The storm left 1.8 million Pennsylvania electric customers without power when it hit Oct. 29. Although some of those customers were still without power a week later, the state Public Utility Commission generally praised the electric companies' response. Members of the commission said the utilities communicated well with customers and prepared for the storm by bringing in crews and supplies from out-of-state.
Robert Powelson, chairman of the PUC, said he gave utility companies grades ranging from "B-plus" through "D," but he did not want to point out flaws. "A storm of this magnitude requires a well-coordinated response, which is what I feel occurred in Pennsylvania," said Powelson. He said lessons learned from the response to Hurricanes Irene and Lee in 2011 helped workers prepare for Sandy. The goal of the meeting was to learn about potential improvements. One after the next, utility company officials described the historic nature of the storm and praised their crews for responding quickly and maintaining communication with customers. "This was the worst storm in our company's history," said David Bonenberger, vice president of distribution operations for PPL Electric Utilities, which operates in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
He said PPL brought in extra crews from 16 states with office staff working around-the-clock in the days after the storm. Temporary cites with food, water and lodging for utility crews were established at several locations, including Dorney Park, Bonenberger said. For the first time, many of the companies aggressively used social media to warn customers of the pending storm, to take reports of outages and to inform people about expected restoration times. Utilities also expanded their phone lines, having learned from communication troubles after two major storms in the summer of 2011. But room for improvement remains - particularly when it comes to customers' estimated time of restoration, known as "ETR."
Commissioner John Coleman said customers reported receiving "ETRs" that were sometimes changed and extended. "If you are a customer who is without power and you are three days, four days into an outage, the accuracy of an ETR is priceless, absolutely priceless," Coleman said. "That's an area that keeps coming back to us as an area of improvement." "I think all utilities across the country face the same challenge," said Bonenberger. "This is an area that we can all improve on."
Commissioner James Cawley asked whether more lines could be installed underground to keep them from being damaged during major storms. David McDonald, president of West Penn Power Co., said it's possible, but retrofitting power lines to be placed underground costs about $1 million per mile and doubles the average restoration time when repairs are needed. As to why some customers were left without power for days after the storms, the companies said they targeted the largest swaths of outages first, leaving those in smaller blocks waiting. Those groups are often the most difficult to reach, said Frank Peverly, vice president of operations for Pike County Light & Power Co. paindependent.com
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday reauthorized the telephone charge residents in Fulton County pay for their local 911 systems. Fulton County, an eighth-class county, did not request a change to its current contribution rate of $1.50 per telephone line per month, the maximum allowed for sixth- through eighth-class counties.
Fulton County's 911 service area has a population of approximately 14,845. The county is served by CenturyLink, Frontier Communications of Breezewood Inc., Verizon Pennsylvania LLC and various competitive local exchange carriers. Local phone companies collect the fee for the county. The Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act of 1990 provides for a statewide 911 emergency communication system to be administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The law allows the counties to recover the cost for 911 systems by accessing a fee on every land line. The PUC reviews the contributions rates to make sure they do not exceed the allowable amount. The plan and the surcharge are effective from the date of the PUC order for a period of three years. Chambersburg Public Opinion
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