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ABC Wants DVR Fast Forwarding Disabled 718

Posted by Zonk
from the learn-to-spell-bad-idea dept.
Anonymous CE Worker writes "The television network ABC is looking to develop technology that would disable the fast-forward button on DVRs, and allow commercials to run as intended on their channel." From the article: "Some research executives — even at networks with sales departments that acted differently — had argued before the upfront that ads viewed in fast-forward mode generated value for advertisers, since consumers were at least partly exposed to their messages. But Shaw said ABC was only interested in finding a way to receive compensation for un-skipped ads."
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ABC Wants DVR Fast Forwarding Disabled

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  • stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:05PM (#15676039)
    Why, ABC, do you want people to stop watching your programs?

    NEWSFLASH: If your channel is the only one disabling fast forwarding then people aren't going to bother watching your shit in the first place.
  • Whats the problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PB_TPU_40 (135365) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:06PM (#15676050)
    When I see an ad even in fast forward that catches my attention I usually rewind and watch it. Maybe I'm just weird, but I dont enjoy watching crap commercials for tampons etc., its not as if I use them! However good beer commericals on the other hand...

    More of the same ol' same ol' of screwing the consumer.
  • by eln (21727) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:06PM (#15676056) Homepage
    If I'm watching a TV program on my DVR and I catch up to the live program, and am thus forced to watch the commercials, I get a little annoyed, but I live with it. If I were watching a pre-recorded program on my DVR and I was FORCED to watch the commercials because they decided to disable a primary function of my DVR, I would be pissed off, and feel very hostile toward the network and the advertisers involved.

    Sure, an important part of advertising is getting people to hear your message. However, it's also important not to inspire feelings of hatred toward you by trying to force your message down people's throats. If the net result of your invasive advertising is that everyone hates you, how is that a good thing for the advertiser?
  • Right.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vondo (303621) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:07PM (#15676062)
    Because the only reason to fast forward a DVR is to skip commercials. You really want to watch that 20 minutes of the baseball game that is on before the show you were trying to tape. Or if you rewind to see something at the start of Lost again, you really want to re-watch the 30 minutes of the show you've already seen.

    Any DVR manufacturer that goes along with making a DVR less useful than a VCR is going to suffer in a huge way. In 1988 we had a VCR with a 30-second fastforward button.

    I'm not even going to get into how making someone watch commercials is wrong.
  • Aw piss on 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:08PM (#15676066) Homepage Journal

    ABC was only interested in finding a way to receive compensation for un-skipped ads

    Whoops, time to change their business model!

    Let me introduce myself. I'm an olde farte. I was a teenager back in the 1970's when they were laying the first cable around our neighbourhood. Back then people (the They as in "they say ...") said "nobody will pay for what they already get for free" and "nobody will pay to see advertising." Well... "they" were wrong as it turns out, people now pay upwards of 50$US for the honour of watching bad programmes and watching Enzyte Bob lose his shorts (tell me those floats in the pool aren't phallic, go on).

    Now it's the content providers who are insisting the viewer (those with satellite and cable) watch the advertisements they are already paying to see.

    <Stimpy>Ironic, huh, Ren?</Stimpy>

    Time for network execs and particularly the viewers to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Re:I see no ads (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MorderVonAllem (931645) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#15676100)
    Yeah, but you have to have a license to even watch tv
  • by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#15676102) Homepage
    I purchase a LOT of dvd movies. these has DRM content such as the fbi warning and sometimes trailers or just film studio propaganda which is non-skippable on my sony dvd player (otherwise very nice)... what's up with that? we have to first buy the content, then HAVE to watch crap like that?

    yes I do understand that if I copy this disc I just bought I will get into trouble, yes, I known this since vhs cassettes in my youth thank you very much

    that will probably never change, but I think dvd player fabricants should enable skip option on content you paid for...
  • Explain, please? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keyne9 (567528) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:12PM (#15676122)
    Could someone explain to me how a skipped ad, in which the person has absolutely no desire to ever see the ad, buy the product, or otherwise succumb to feminine hygeine products, is any different than walking away during commercials, or can in any way be construed as "lost revenue"?

    If a person skips an ad (or, fast forwards it), they very obviously had no desire to ever submit dollars to that product/company, or would do so already without the ad in the first place.
  • by Kithraya (34530) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:12PM (#15676131)
    I wish people in the advertising industry would get your point. There are commercials that I rewind to watch, especially if it's something I'm interested in buying. When I was in the market for a new car, I payed attention to nearly every car commercial I saw. But now I'm not in the market for a new car, and frankly don't care what kind of 4th of July sale is going on down at my local car dealership. I don't care about feminine itch products. I don't care that more moms pick brand X of juice box because it's better for growing kids. What I *did* watch was a commercial last night about Arby's having all natural chicken (compared to the other major fast food restrauants). I *do* care about the new brand of breakfast sausage made with maple syrup. Those commercials I watch, and frequently even rewind so I can see the whole thing. But *please* let me skip the tampon commercial. I don't use tampons, I don't want tampons, I'm not going to buy tampons.
  • Re:Aw piss on 'em (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slindseyusa (942823) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:12PM (#15676133)
    Now it's the content providers who are insisting the viewer (those with satellite and cable) watch the advertisements they are already paying to see.
    I agree. This is a similar argument to the one for Net Neutrality. We're paying once, why make us pay again.
  • by JonTurner (178845) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#15676147) Journal
    I want technology to make these idiots steer their cars directly into utility poles.

    So they want to force viewers to watch obnoxious commercials? Here's some news, Mr. VP -- you can't. And the harder you try, the less success you'll have. You see, you have to entice viewers, not force. This is simply Proof #482 that these 'executives' don't understand that pissed off customers don't buy stuff. True, their real customers are the advertising companies, but stations live and die by their viewer numbers ("share", they call it). Fewer viewers = lower billable rate for ad spots = lower revenue = asshat executive retires early to "persure other opportunities".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15676163)
    Actually, it's the epileptics that would have a problem, unless the diabetics were too busy watching the commercials to fix their sugar levels... :)

    In any case, this is just another reason why programming will continue to get pirated to the 'Net via BitTorrent (or insert newfangled filesharing technology here).

    Get over it, it's time to move with the technology, not inhibit it because it's chunking away at your profits.

  • Re:Right.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Homology (639438) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:16PM (#15676176)
    I'm not even going to get into how making someone watch commercials is wrong.

    This is the commercial mindset: authoritarian and deceitful.

  • Retard Alert (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrsbrisby (60242) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:16PM (#15676185) Homepage
    Maybe it's ABC, maybe it's advertisers, or maybe it's Nielson, but these guys all need to understand that the whole point of advertisements is to convert customers to their product.

    I'm not going to be converted to some life insurance, or a box of cookies, so why am I watching ads for those things? Rather, why are these people throwing money away on me if it's not going to turn into a conversion for them?

    I skip any commercial I'm not interested in, and that's an awful lot of them. If I woke up one day and my fast-forward button no longer skipped commercials, it wouldn't equal a new conversion for these guys. So they'd still be out the money for the commercial, and on top of that, the money they gave to the lobbyist to disable my fast-forward button.

    This is like saying spam-blockers are hurting the business of Viagra and timeshares. The people using blocking and deleting spam aren't going to buy viagra if just those spam-blockers were somehow less effective, and what's next, stopping the delete button from functioning when it's an advertisement?

    Does ABC really think that if only they could get us to watch more SPAM, they'd somehow make more money?
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:18PM (#15676197) Homepage
    Because it's far cheaper to hire incompetent Executives to demand stupid things from another industry and whine about it because nobody agrees with them.

  • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15676217) Homepage Journal
    Studies show that the net is displacing television as an entertainment option, especially among coveted younger viewers. I love the kind of thinking that responds to this threat by trying to make sure that television remains as unlike (and separate from) the net as possible.

    I barely watch TV anymore, and commercials are one big reason why. I'm so used to being able to choose exactly what I see and hear that I find the idea of passively accepting ads unacceptable; the annoyance level spoils shows for me. Note that I *am* willing to pay for programming; I'd just rather do it directly, through subscription fees, than have content force-fed to me on the remote chance it might make me buy something.
  • Re:Fine by me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fallungus (810282) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:21PM (#15676238)
    What makes you think that once ABC develops the technology, that the other networks won't fall in line and adopt it too?
  • by ameline (771895) <ian.ameline@ g m ail.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:21PM (#15676243) Homepage Journal
    /flame ON. (and sorry for the meta discussion)

    What would it take to MOTIVATE you not to use the word "incentivise" ever again? Do you think that using (not utilizing!) large words makes you sound more intelligent?

    It makes you sound like a blathering idiot who doesn't know the language.

    Ok -- there -- I feel better now. My co-workers thank you for diverting my flames from them for the rest of the day. :-)

    P.S. I'm waiting for someone to post that incentivise is a perfectly cromulent word.
  • by darkone (7979) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:21PM (#15676246) Homepage
    I would say I see more commercials while fast forwarding with Tivo than live tv. If I am fast forwarding, I am staring at the tv, noting every commercial, to see when I can hit play. We often stop to watch funny or interesting commercials (like Apple's new ones). If I'm watching Live TV, I often get up for commercials knowing that I have 3-4 minutes (what happened to 2 minutes of commercials) until I need to come back.
      And what's with commercials being twice as loud as the show you're watching!
      -Ben
  • by Mayhem178 (920970) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:25PM (#15676279)
    You know what's sad? That even though the Technocracy is a fictional element of an awesome RPG, it's becoming more and more real every day.

    Next thing you know, I'll start incurring Paradox when mundanes see me slinging fireballs around.
  • Shaw, pshaw! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:25PM (#15676287) Journal

    From the article, an opinion by the ABC tool Shaw:

    Shaw also threw cold water on the idea that neutering the fast-forward option would result in a consumer backlash. He suggested that consumers prefer DVRs for their ability to facilitate on-demand viewing and not ad-zapping--and consumers might warm to the idea that anytime viewing brings with it a tradeoff in the form of unavoidable commercial viewing.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong! Mr. Shaw! What a tool you've turned out to be. People are not grateful for the timeshifting of their shows... they're grateful for being in control of their watching preferences. Some will watch commercials and will do so whether or not they can skip the ads. Others don't ever watch ads, don't ever want to, but happen to inadvertantly bump into ads every once in a while -- that's the best you're going to get with them.

    You want to piss off the customers? Disable the fast forward during commercials... Plain and simple... there will be a backlash.

  • Re:I see no ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:27PM (#15676306) Journal
    Let's assume:
    You are watching 1 hour of Television a day.
    Ads on US television, 3 minutes every 10 minutes - rough estimate.

    1 x 6 x 3 x 365 = 6570 minutes per annum = 109 hours per annum.

    What's your time worth $10/hour (conservative figure)?

    So that's $1090 p.a. for pretty crappy programming vs £150 p.a for what is without a doubt the best television in the world.

    You've been had, mate!

  • by Synic (14430) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:27PM (#15676309) Homepage Journal
    Traditionally it's not "adapt or die" in commercial culture. It's something more along the lines of Sue, Threaten, Lobby, Buyout, and failing that Adapt, or Die.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:28PM (#15676324) Homepage Journal

    The networks should be the last people with any input into the technology that will define the future of the TV industry. All the decent television is elsewhere

    You see, ABC, CBS and NBC are the suvivours of the age of Radio and early Television networks. They were the Passive Pay-to-view means of televised entertainment in the USA. Now they are old and out of touch, their programmes are rubbish, their news is rubbish, but they are still huge and powerful, probably because they are merged or bought out by other companies which made their profits doing something other than grasping straws in a dwindling market to feed a one trick pony (nice combination of cliche's, eh?)

    They demand special treatment. In light of dozens of competing channels which now produce excellent and diverse entertainment, they need this old business model to succeed. Otherwise, heavens(!), they'd have to role up their sleeves and get down to the business of creating content worth paying for.

    Can't have that, can we? So corporate welfare, let's demand special treatment from hardware vendors, cable/satellite distributors and special laws which protect our vested interests from big government.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:29PM (#15676327)
    When there were 8 commercials per hour, it was not be worth people's time to skip the ads.
    With 22 commercials per hour, it is not worth the time to watch the show live.

  • by Have Blue (616) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:32PM (#15676358) Homepage
    Of course, if the advertisers actually take your advice and try tailoring commercial breaks to individual viewers' interests, they'll get reamed by privacy advocates for gathering the information they need to be able to do that.
  • by garaxiel (663391) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:33PM (#15676367)
    how a DVR Fast Forwarding through a commercial is any different then a VCR that taped a show doing the same exact thing for the past how many years? yeah that's what i thought.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:34PM (#15676378) Homepage Journal
    Advertisers are relying on a couple of things in their current business model: that inertia will keep a significant percentage of the viewership on that couch, passively sucking up the message, during the ads, and that ads are allowing them to influence the purchasing habits of a significant number of viewers even despite their better judgement. The quite obvious tactics of manipulation in advertisements work. Stoned dude sits on the couch and while he could just get up and walk away, or mute it and page through a magazine, the activity barrier is higher than just clicking through on FF, and so he sits there, and that taco ad works on him. I'm hungry, I want a taco. The whole point of advertising is influencing the decision of the viewer: making them buy something they didn't think they wanted (and probably don't need and will get nothing from). Does it work? Look at the stupid cars people drive, the rancid garbage they eat, the price they pay for bubbly sugar water.

    Advertisers are concerned about DVR fast forwarding diminishing the reach of their advertising and they are right to, it is diminishing the reach of their advertising. Advertisers pay networks for that reach so networks are justifiably concerned about the rise of DVRs impacting their revenue. ABC's arguments that people don't have the right and (most amusingly) don't really want to FF through ads are idiotic, but the counter-argument that ad-skipping is not going to mess with the business model of sponsored television doesn't hold water either.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:35PM (#15676399)
    They're making sure that when you do want that chocolate bar or cup of coffee, it's the one advertised that you'll recognise in the store. Then you buy the advertised one because it's already familiar to you, you already know about it. It becomes the safe option, the others are unknown and therefore risky.

     
  • by Don853 (978535) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:37PM (#15676413)
    Would annoy the hell out of schmucks like me who still watch regular TV realtime, though. Maybe they can put it to music.
  • by mtdenial (769442) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:46PM (#15676496)
    I don't think they ever will though... I mean, to quote the article (quoting the ABC president of advertising):

    "I'm not so sure that the whole issue really is one of commercial avoidance," Shaw said. "It really is a matter of convenience--so you don't miss your favorite show. And quite frankly, we're just training a new generation of viewers to skip commercials because they can. I'm not sure that the driving reason to get a DVR in the first place is just to skip commercials. I don't fundamentally believe that. People can understand in order to have convenience and on-demand (options), that you can't skip commercials."

    It's obvious that he pretty much doesn't understand his viewers. Which are, of course, the product he is selling to the advertisers. A signficant chunk of people hate commercials.

    He's also ignoring the fact that on demand viewing was possible before now to anyone who had a VCR. PVRs have a lot of nice features, but the single biggest one that improves my video on demand experience is the fact that the commercials are automatically skipped for me (or require tapping a button a couple of times) rather than holding down the fast forward button and watching the high speed commercials and trying to hit the 'play' button in time again. For me, 'convenience' was the more efficient skipping of commercials.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:47PM (#15676503)
    What I don't understand is why they don't just drop the 30-minute model of television sitcoms and 1-hour model of "reality TV" and invest in more immersive, well-defined shows that have longer run times and are more story-oriented like movies. Then, you can plug in a ton more product placements to help make up for decreased revenue regarding skipped ads.

    Of course, I lie when I say "I don't understand". I fully understand: that would be hard. It takes talent and dedication to sit and come up with an engaging story that people will stick with, and that undermines the formulaic "churn 'em out" policies of network TV's reality TV cash cows. They'd also have to stop paying the outrageous 1/2 million an episode for big-name actors, which wouldn't go over at all, and god knows it would just be a horrible loss for the world if Jennifer Aniston couldn't make enough money to buy a goddamn Ferrari after every episode.

    Whatever. I don't care what they do. Until my fiance moved in I had bunny ears that picked up PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox, and the only things I ever watched anyway were Nova, the local news, and Simpson reruns. I don't care what they do. Hopefully more people will wise up and stop plugging into the boob tube every night and send their stupid little marketing schemes into a death spiral with or without DVR.
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:49PM (#15676523)
    Over 60% of kids surveyed recently noted that computers were indispensible in their life and used them accordingly. (UK story on Drudgereport.com yesterday noted this)

    TV's were rated indispensible by something around 40% and dropping.

    Networks are BEHIND THE CURVE, & still trying to save the sales of buggy whips.

    Time for a mass cleanout of Network Execs, to be replaced by people who have grown up with computers, as the new era is already here.
  • Re:This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:50PM (#15676535) Journal
    During the 1970's it was a common fact that you would no longer have commercials if you switched to cable. The commercials in there were only for antenna users and they promised to cut them out as soon as the networks made oontent just for the cable.

    Then they decided to get even more money by charging us and getting money from advertisers. Then they decided to get even more money by putting more commercials. Then they decided they could get even more money by raising rates and tying users with tiers with crap they dont need. Now they want even more money by skipping commercials ff options. Where does it end? People are paying $100 a month because there is a show they like on HBO on only that tier offers it and for every 30 minute show there are over 15 minutes of commercials.

    Is this what this crap buys?

    No wonder I refuse to watch any tv. There are some shows I like such as Boston Legal and the West wing but I refuse to just sit there and stare at a tube?? Especially if half the content is now crap.

    Back in the 60's you had only 1 or 2 30 second commercials and you could live with antenna.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#15676622)
    If I were watching a pre-recorded program on my DVR and I was FORCED to watch the commercials because they decided to disable a primary function of my DVR, I would be pissed off, and feel very hostile toward the network and the advertisers involved.

    I dare you to watch late night Comedy Central without timeshifting and fast forward.

    Sure, trying to look between the DVD boxes in the Girls Gone Wild commercials are OK the first 50-100 times you see them, but after that, good old fashioned free hardcore porn is better!

    Instead of there being just a fast forward button, there should be a "I'm simply not interested, can you put me on your do not call list" button. I mean:

    I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse I'll take. And right now I'm a race car and you got me in the red. I'm just saying that it's fuckin' dangerous to have a racecar in the fuckin' red. It could blow.


  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:00PM (#15676657)
    Instead of watching TV, I read books (and re-read books) or I play online computer games, in which I can interact with other people. I don't play single-player games.

    I don't think TV is a monster. I just think it's an utter waste of time when there are more interesting things to do. And most anything is more interesting than TV.
  • by rbrander (73222) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:01PM (#15676677) Homepage
    ...and like Br'er Rabbit, we'll get away from them.

    They could be shooting themselves in the foot with this one because it so clearly subtracts a capability that everybody has had for nearly 25 years with VCRs. I imagine even FCC commissioners and congressmen fast-forward now and then.

    And if they succeed? TV becomes less watchable and just buying the show, more desireable. More and more people will give up on anything not enhanced by it's "live" nature (sports, Idol, etc) and just get the download (legal or not) or of course buy or rent the series on DVD a year later.

    Which means the production company still has a business model, but the TV network, not.

    "It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper."
                                                      - Rod Serling
  • by Yez70 (924200) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:02PM (#15676683)
    Without the 'fast-forward' function, why even own a commercial DVR?

    Wouldn't people just switch to DVD recorders or a media center capable system, whether it's Linux or Windows or even custom made?

    Removing features from an established product like DVRs would only infuriate not only your veiwers but the owners of the products who bought them for the very features you intend to disable. Millions of DVR owners would just stop watching ABC, and download the commercial free versions of their favorite shows online - bypassing any revenue you would intend to make over this change.

    I believe I'll go sell all my Disney/ABC stock now, I want no part in such idiocy nor the loss in profits if it actually happens. If I were a financial adviser, I'd advise others to do the same.
  • Re:stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow (21281) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:05PM (#15676713)
    "I think a company has every right to try and protect their main source of revenue from being circumvented by 3rd party products."

    They have a right to try. However, they don't have a right to succeed, despite attempts to purchase legistlation from the US Congress.
  • by KingMotley (944240) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:18PM (#15676855) Journal
    That'd work for people who fast forward through commercials, but with my DVR I "jump" 45 seconds ahead, so I don't see the commercial at all. For a commercial break, I hit the button 5 times, if the show isn't back on, I'll hit a 6th time, and rarely I hit it a 7th time. I do get to see a 1 second portion of the commercial between the 5th-6th presses though, just long enough for me to recognize it's not the show I'm watching.
  • Re:stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dare nMc (468959) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:29PM (#15676955)
    What company is going to advertise where no one will see their advertisement?

    same answer given everytime this subject comes up.
    You make advertisements people want to watch. heck I have even paused the GE comericials that have just a few frames for the DVR people to pause on.
    I even pull the Harbor freight, and compUSA adds out of the sunday paper. I think DVR's will become the new AID to increase advertising. After all when all have HD DVR's they can put 1800 pages of decent resolution text on my TV in a 30 second comercial, that seams like alott more value for advertisers if they just put the info people want enough to look at it in their.
  • new idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hurfy (735314) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:32PM (#15676984)
    I think i'll read a book.

    Gads, this is already getting stupid and they want to pile on more crap?

    As if having ads every 5 min now (usually for their shows) and running a little ad in the corner for their next show and a logo that seems stuck to my screen just isn't enough....

    I used to get DVDs instead but even those are getting too annoying to bother with. I mostly buy/rent older stuff, much less annoying crap on em. People pay big for convenience, why keep making your stuff less so ?!?

    I made an interesting discovery when i was home during the day last week. Perry Mason must have a 100-year distribution agreement for no cuts...the commercials weren't even enough to go pee. I swear there were like 4 60-90 sec breaks the whole hour.
  • Re:Fine by me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sadr (88903) <skg@sadr.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:36PM (#15677032)
    What you fail to understand is that, for traditional TV, we are not customers. We're product. The TV stations are delivering us to their advertisers. The advertisers pay them, not us.

    If the networks could have us chained to our sofas and forced to watch advertising for 8 hours a day, kept awake by electrical jolts, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

    So anything that makes their advertisers unhappy results in worse conditions for the herd. I mean viewers.
  • by Senior Frac (110715) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:37PM (#15677045) Homepage

    Oh please do this! I hope all channels do this!

    There would have to be some signal that "commercial starts here" and "commercial ends here," otherwise how would the DVR know when to disable fast forward? The OSS DVRs, such as MythTV, could key in on the signal and outright block the commercials entirely. Wow... sign me up!

  • A la carte (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chad.koehler (859648) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:41PM (#15677101)
    I was thinking about this too, and what would (seem to) work for me, a la carte programming.
    Wasn't congress trying to force this issue with the major cable and satellite providers? If I could choose to have only certain channels (each seperately priced) then I think I could personally cut down on my cable bill significantly. History Channel, National Geographic Channel, and Cartoon Network - I would gladly pay for these seperately so I didn't have to subsidize crap channels like Soap and E!.
  • by Some_Llama (763766) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:46PM (#15677181) Homepage Journal
    "It's weird that the higher than thou croud always acts like TV is such a monster while they wile away their hours just as mindlessly. Funny that way..."

    Maybe because we aren't "mindlessly" using our time.

    Sitting in front of a box that prompts you when to laugh (laughtracks), what to buy (commercials), how to feel (fox news) is completely different than posting your OWN opinions on topics, reading about those topics, interacting with other people, and taking an active role in what is entertaining you and entertaining others.

    Comapring TV to slashdot or any of your other examples is at best misguided and at worst stupid.
  • Re:stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuationNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:00PM (#15677398)
    We live in a capitalist society. If ABC can't figure out how to earn their money in a market of willing buyers and willing sellers, then fuck'em because now they're just wasting resources that could be put to better use. I pay HBO $20 a month for high-quality, commercial-free programming. I donate to my local classical music station. I pay $10/mo to Akimbo for their internet-based on-demand service, which is commercial free.

    Quite frankly, free-to-air television programming should never have happened because now we're stuck with entrenched welfare queens like ABC.
  • PBS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Petaris (771874) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:01PM (#15677413)
    When I get sick of comercial television or just want to watch something with actual merit I switch over to WPT (Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin's PBS station) or to TPT (Twin Cities Public Television, in MN). They have short little recognitions for sponsors/donors but thats it. The pledge drives can be a little annoying but on the other hand if its for a show you like you get a good 6 hours worth of episodes to watch. And yes I do donate to WPT and to WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio), I'd rather pay for high quality shows then have to sit through commercial breaks that seem to be lasting longer and longer.

    Just my two cents,

    (I would expect lots of geek and nerd comments but I am posting to /. ;D )

  • Re:Fine by me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:11PM (#15677541)
    After all, the lobbiests are on retainer, ya know.

    I think you misspelled legislators

  • A la carte TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:17PM (#15677617) Journal
    Never completely happen. The only fix is the following. An a la carte pay TV via Internet or Satelite. (can't use Cable because they have to much of their own content and will always try to force garbage TV they created on you) The problem today isn't commercials, it's the fact that TV sucks. If a channel was great people would pay for it without the need to be inundated with commercials. It's the reason I know so many people who pay for NFL Sunday Ticket. I hate garbage shows as much as I hate garbage commericals. I watch pretty much only four families of stations. History Channel(s), Science Channel, National Geographic, and the ESPN Channel(s). Any other stations my viewing habits are spotty at best. I used to watch the Discovery Channel, but it's filled with a ton of garbage now too. (those biker shows were cool the first 10,000 times...)
  • by kimvette (919543) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:28PM (#15677773) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I'm sure fantastic shows such as The Simple Life, American Idol, Trading Spouses, and The Surreal World, with their high production values, stimulate mental growth, especially compared to old mindless tripe like Hogan's Heroes, I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek (TOS), and other older shows. ;)

    Face it: with few exceptions, most of what passes for entertainment today sucks. Sure there are a few exceptions here and there, but what gets ratings is "reality shows" with no substance.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:30PM (#15677815)
    Here is a simple solution if ABC gets there way (other than not watching ABC). For every commercial you are forced to watch because your fast forward button is now disabled, send a letter (not email) to the company with something like the following:

    Dear sirs,

    I was forced to watch your commercial on my dvr last night because ABC has taken it upon themselves to somehow deactivate the fast forward button function. They state they do so to benefit their advertisors. Why your company and ABC believes it has the right to break a piece of equipment that I worked very hard to save for and to purchase, I do not understand. However, since that is your position and my dvr is no longer functioning correctly, I am no longer going to purchase the products you manufacture. Not only that, I am telling my friends and family to boycott your products as well.

    Sincerely,



    Then follow through on it. Most likely, you will get a letter back saying it is not their policy to do this, but ABC and that they have no control over it. However, companies take serious the threats of boycotts, particularly when they are on grounds such as these. If they have enough complaints, they'll pressure ABC to quit or they will pull their advertising. Either way, in the end, ABC will have to change the practice.
  • by icefreon (774048) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:33PM (#15677858)
    How about the KFC superbowl comercial??? Nobody has mentioned that yet! KFC ran a special comercial during the superbowl where ONLY if you had the ability to go frame by frame you could find the secret password to get a free Chicken Snacker from KFC! If ABC wanted to cash in on comercails and DVR's just use "special" tactics! I claimed my free snacker!
  • MythTV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobs666 (146801) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:35PM (#15677888)
    I don't see now ABC can disable MythTV [mythtv.org] on my Linux hardware. Sure you can make me go throw the inefficient analog data stream, but you can't disable it.
  • by gillrock (517577) <gillrock@yahoo.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:56PM (#15678149)
    this is just another reason why programming will continue to get pirated to the 'Net via BitTorrent (or insert newfangled filesharing technology here).

    Ok, hold on a second here. Let's be accurate about something. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING that is shown over the ABC airwaves that is recorded and shared via the internet IS NOT piracy. Over the air television, HD or analog, is free for the taking.
  • by BalanceOfJudgement (962905) on Friday July 07, 2006 @04:00PM (#15678800) Homepage
    And I skip commercials with a vengence...

    Thief. Or at least, ABC and all the rest would like you to think so. Because you know, it's now your DUTY to watch television, where once they were grateful for your viewership - now it's your responsibility!
  • by Haeleth (414428) on Friday July 07, 2006 @07:02PM (#15680128) Journal
    Just curious, is there any precedent that uploading/downloading tv shows that have been broadcast publicly is illegal?

    I don't know much law, but to pull a precedent from what I do know, what about the Betamax case? That established that "private, noncommercial time-shifting in the home" counts as fair use under US law. If you can do whatever you like with TV shows that have been broadcast publicly, why did this case even reach the Supreme Court, and why did the justices add so many qualifications to the very limited use of home recording that they decided was legal?

    I was under the impression that this still was in a bit of a 'grey area', since they were publicly aired...

    The vast majority of the things that people believe are "grey areas" are, in fact, simple black-and-white questions that people just want to believe are grey, because it makes them feel better about doing something they know damn well is probably illegal.

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