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Dish leaps into San Francisco-area DVR scuffle

Satellite TV service jumps into latest DVR marketing blitz to attract customers in wake of cable company blunder.

Dish Network has thrown itself into the latest marketing blitz for digital video recorders, aiming to appeal to the tech-savvy San Francisco Bay Area audience in the wake of a gaffe by cable company Comcast.

The satellite television service provider ran an advertisement in the San Jose Mercury News daily newspaper Monday in response to a recent promotion by DVR rival TiVo. The ad wasn't associated with a promotion but was taken out to remind potential customers that Dish also offers a DVR service.

The ad asks, "San Jose, Where's the DVR cable promised you?" DVRs allow viewers to pause live television broadcasts and program systems to record shows to a hard drive.

Through a series of communication miscues earlier this month, cable giant Comcast left some of its Bay Area subscribers with the impression that its DVR service--which was supposed to be up and running in the area--wasn't available, or that there was a shortage of recorders. A recent check of the Comcast Web site indicated that the DVR service was available in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo took the opportunity to organize the promotion in which it gave away about 2,000 Series2 recorders in an attempt to take advantage of the Comcast gaffe to win over converts.

Dish is clearly aiming to attract cable customers as well.

"By running the ad we wanted to increase awareness of our free DVR," said Marc Lumpkin, a Dish Network spokesman. "Cable wasn't providing for its customers."

Dish has previously run the ad but its inclusion in the Monday addition of the San Jose Mercury News was a direct response to TiVo's efforts and Comcast's mix-ups, according to Lumpkin. "It was an ideal time to place emphasis on DVRs for potential customers, especially in the Bay Area where there are tech-savvy consumers," he said.

Dish's ad offers free installation and the 120GB DVR add-on allowing for up to 100 hours of recording time and a $4.98-per-month charge for the service.