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ABC Wants DVR Fast Forwarding Disabled 718

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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  • Screw that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dh2000 ( 71834 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:09PM (#15676083) Journal
    I'll just stop watching TV... oh wait, I already did.

    No commericials, no annoying crap. I get more done, and if there is anything I want to watch, then I download it off of one of the many sources of free video.

    Quality and instant (yet horribly scheduled) access is the only thing TV networks have going for them, now.
  • On Screen Ads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#15676106)
    I can just picture it now. DVR is going to push TV channels to start putting on-screen ads up during the show (sorta like what you see splashed across every single frickin' page on the internet).
  • Unskipped ads only (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:16PM (#15676175) Homepage Journal
    I don't have a TV (on purpose, I find it save tons of time for me,) but my parents do, so whenever I go there I end up watching something on TV at least for a little while and I never watch commercials. How are these ABC executives going to prevent me from switching to another channel while the commercials are on? What about my ability to (gasp) turn the TV off or even (double gasp) go away from the box when the commercial is on?

    I trully believe that it is enough that my parents already pay for the dish service (ExpressVu in Canada,) and I trully don't care about the networks' desire to make money on commercials.

    (going on a tangent here)
    By the way, I really reduced the number of visits to the local movie theaters, I went to watch the Superman though and it was terrible experience: it was a 10pm show and people brought their 2-3 year old kids, a family right behind us had 4 of these things at the same time and it was impossible to get the parents to shut the little pricks up. And one of the parents at the end of the movie started yelling at me: you can't treat kids that way, what do you have against kids (the guy was from India I think, but it should be irrelevant in principle,) I told him he should have kept the brats at home and not bring them to the 10pm show that ended at 1am. He wouldn't stop yelling, so I asked him if he wants to take it outside, he didn't, oh well. And by the way, the movie was supposed to start at 10pm, but it only started at 10:20, and they went through all the garbage commercials and all the little good drones/zombies were watching those commercials as if their lives depended on them and I was studying the drones, they were almost drooling with those gigantic backets of pop-corn.

    I know why I don't go to the movies: little kids, big up kids, popcorn, noise, (oh yeah, one of those parents behind us left his cell on and was yapping on it for sometime during the movie,) commercials for anything, not just movies, then 20 minutes of movie commercials.

    Fuck the movie theaters. And fuck the ABC network producers, we already pay to watch their garbage and they just have to stick it to us with all these commercials AND now they want to prevent us from skipping the commercials.

    Man I am glad I don't have a TV at home.
  • Re:Aw piss on 'em (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:17PM (#15676191) Homepage
    Whoops, time to change their business model!

    Sure, and better yet the business model already exists -- take your network to a pay basis like HBO or Showtime.

    The big problem with that approach for ABC, of course, is that it requires that you have decent television that people will actually shell out a few bucks a month to watch. I mean, "Grey's Anatomy" might be all well and good for a network show, but put it up against "Rescue Me" on FX or "Deadwood" on HBO and it's revealed for the lame-brained homogenized crap that it is.

    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, either on HBO or SciFi or Comedy Central or other channels that were never broadcast through the air to begin with. Listening to ABC's bright ideas here is like, well, listening to the music industry when they tell us that the only legitimate way to listen to music is on a CD that we paid full price for and will never lend to a friend or resell ('cause that's just like stealing, you know).
  • I want to disable... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by booch ( 4157 ) <slashdot2010&craigbuchek,com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15676208) Homepage that are pissing me off on the highway.

    ...cell phones of people in the grocery store with those stupid BlueTooth headsets.

    ...push-to-talk on cell phones.


    ...airplanes flying over my house at night that are too loud.

    Is there any reason why ABC should be allowed to disable someone else's equipment that they don't like, and that I should not be allowed?

  • by mrsbrisby ( 60242 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15676216) Homepage
    Watch out, you'll be modded down by a horde of TiVo apologists who still don't get that they have already sold TiVo owners down the river several times (remember the 30-second skip?) and won't hesitate to again.

    No I don't, actually. I've had a TiVo since their first models came out and I don't recall any of them having a 30-second skip.

    More on your topic: I'm on a fence with my TiVo. I'm worried about the whole DRM thing. It hasn't affected me yet, but the instant it does, TiVO will lose a household with three TiVOs in it immediately.
  • by whyde ( 123448 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:28PM (#15676315)
    How would you feel if, when paging through your favorite magazine/newspaper/periodical, you were forced to pause for 5 seconds at each advertisement, and it wouldn't let you change pages or skip directly to the article you desired? What would you think if the publishers were of the opinion that you were "stealing" content if you never glanced at any print ads while reading their content?

    Don't be tricked into thinking ABC broadcasts shows to make money. ABC sells the time of a captive audience (you) to advertisers to make money. Anything they make from DVD sales or in syndication is just gravy on top. That is their business model, and DVRs threaten it, since they no longer can prove that anyone bothers to watch the ads on their DVRs.

  • Re:On Screen Ads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OhPlz ( 168413 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:28PM (#15676318)
    It already happens. USA networks (ugh) puts huge "Monk" or "The Closer" banner ads right over the bottom right corner of the program you're watching. I've seen some so bad that they take up the bottom third of the screen, usually near the end of a program.

    It's gotten to the point where I won't watch USA anymore, nor TNT or a few of the others like them. What's the point when I'm not actually allowed to watch the show?

    I can't understand why the show's producers don't fight the stations on it, the stations are obscuring their "artistic" work. Imagine if the Mona Lisa was 1/3rd covered by an ad for Enzyte (weird mental image there, huh?).
  • MythTV (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:29PM (#15676336)
    Just install MythTV...done and done...With commercial skip and time-stretch, I have halved the time I watch TV while watching the same content.

    I don't blame ABC for trying this since their primary revenue stream is from commercials. What I can't stand though is how me and most of my neighbors are shelling out close to $100/month for the privilege of seeing up to 30% commercials on cable channels.
  • Surprising? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:31PM (#15676353) Homepage Journal
    Not surprising. The television networks clearly don't know a damn thing.

    *) they put their best shows up against the other network's best shows. Sun Tzu said to attack where your enemy is weak. Therefore, when otherwise perfectly fine shows are put up against a category blockbuster, such as Friends, or Seinfeld, they are killed quickly. Altering the schedule to put good shows up against the competition's bad shows would increase the number of viewers for that show.

    *) Sun Tzu also said that the place of battle must not be known to the enemy. I think that Thursday night at 8:00 PM is a known place of battle. If the networks were smart, they would have surprised their enemies and aired a good show on Tuesday night.

    If Machiavelli is your cup of tea, multiple violations can be seen there as well, such as a failure to heed Chapter XIX: "That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated".
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:31PM (#15676355) Journal
    The problem is that no one will boycott ABC over something like this. They will still watch their favorite shows on the network.

    Or they will wait till their favorite show comes out on DVD. Or they willl download them off the Internet, where someone will have posted them after ripping out the commercials. Or people will give up watching ABC and switch to another network or abandon network TV altogether. The number of responses that would hurt ABC is so large, that if they do this, it spells their doom. It won't be long before one of the major broadcast networks dies, and I guess ABC is trying to be the first.

  • Stupid Idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:33PM (#15676362)
    OK, so now instead of fast forwarding through commercials on my DVR, I just go back to flipping to another channel while commercials are on! Brilliant ABC!
  • by Erich ( 151 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:38PM (#15676418) Homepage Journal
    By the way, I really reduced the number of visits to the local movie theaters, I went to watch the Superman though and it was terrible experience: it was a 10pm show and people brought their 2-3 year old kids

    This is why I only watch movies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas [] here in Austin. No children except at special showings (for Superman, no children under 6 and then only with parent). Even then, if they are noisy they will get thrown out. Also, no commercials and special movie-themed pre-show entertainment. (Unless you consider previews commercials, or 60's-era Car commercials before the movie Cars to be annoying commercials rather than fun pre-show entertainment... which I don't).

    Also, they have good beer. Hooray, beer!

    Seriously, if you like movies, the Alamo is a good reason to move to Austin. Or, at least, to visit.

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

    by OctoberSky ( 888619 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#15676471)
    On the "in 1988 we had a VCR with a 30-second fastforward button" note, I had a TV that had a timer. If you clicked it once a 30 second timer popped up in the corner (would disappear until 10 seconds remained). If you hit it twice 60 seconds, 3 times 90 seconds, and so on. The only reason this existed was so you could set it to say 120 or 150 seconds (2.5 minutes) and go look at other channels and it would remind you that you had been gone for X amount of time and the commericals were probably over.

    There was also the abiltiy to set it to turn back to the original channel after the timer ran out. So if I was watching channel 36 and set the timer for 2 minutes and then flipped through other channels, after 2 minutes it would bring me back to channel 36. I loved that feature. DVR has pretty much replaced it but it was a great feature.
  • Re:Fine by me... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:44PM (#15676477)
    The reality is that they could easily do this anyway

    Up here in the pacific northwest we have been subjected to the Microsoft/Comcast o/s experiment on our DVR's and there is a bunch of things that don't work properly compared to the Motorola OS version of the same box.

    We already have a number of channels, particularly BBC America where FF or indeed any fast forward or backward does not work because they don't broadcast key frames.

    All ABC needs to do is get the MSoft version loaded on more boxes and do the same thing
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#15676510)
    How about a static banner or border? That way there's distracting moving images of candy colors and boobies and whatever for the regular viewers, and text you can't escape reading for the PVR crowd.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:04PM (#15676704) Homepage
    Should this ever happen, I will be cancelling my DVR and cable, and not watch any more TV.

    I can't tolerate live TV as it is, and I have occasionally rewound an ad which looked funny which I had skipped. (Like those great VW ads about unpimpin' your ride ;-)

    I won't watch yout (*&#^ Kotex, McDonald's, or Huggies commercials because I can guarantee I will ever be a consumer. Your ad contract with ABC does not extend to me.

    I wish advertisers would outgrow this belief that I am somehow morally/legally bound to watch the stuff I don't want to see that they paid someone else for. Pay me a few hundred extra/month, and I'll personally watch all of the ads during all of the TV I watch. Otherwise, go away!!
  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#15676755)
    I disagree... there's levels of mindlessness.

    Watching TV = sleeping.
    Reading, writing, and playing video games all require brain activity.

    Blind Melon: "And all I can do is read a book to stay awake, It rips my life away, but it's a great escape."

    The thing is that you can say that about ANYTHING. Isn't it equally wastefull to go to a bar and drink beer and play pool with your friends? Afterall, what good comes from it, ultimately?

    But the difference is that watching TV is the only one where your brainwaves are the same as when you're sleeping.

    So, tha_mink, what's you're criteria for NOT wasting time?
  • Re:Fine by me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0xABADC0DA ( 867955 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:30PM (#15676963)
    When they took away commercial-skip on ABC I didn't mind, because commercials are the most entertaining thing on ABC.

    When they took away commercial-skip on Fox News I didn't mind, because commercials are the most informative show on that network.

    When they took away commercial-skip on Sci-Fi Network I didn't mind, because after watching 1000 commercials for "Mansquito" what harm is one more?

    When they took away commercial-skip on Comedy Central it was too late to laugh.

    Skip-bans are just a slippery slope to a world of black & white macintosh commercials.
  • by patmfitz ( 517089 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:43PM (#15677140) Homepage
    On a program called "The Soup" on "E!", during a commercial break they insert a ten-second snippet of the show between the commercials. Until I got wise to this trick, I would stop fast-forwarding to catch it (usually just a quick throwaway gag), after which the commercials would continue. I thought this was a pretty clever way to catch us fast-forward junkies, but I don't really fall for it any more.
  • Product placement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jabelar ( 913707 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:55PM (#15677324)
    Product placement within shows is the only way that advertisers will be guaranteed viewers will see it. I hate product placement, but I guess someone has to fund my favorite shows. With modern computer editing techniques, they could in fact replace the in-show ads to keep up with changes in advertisers and localization.
  • by DAE51D ( 776260 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:56PM (#15677331) Homepage
    Reminds me of the TV show "Max Headroom", where it was a crime to turn off a television, and everything in society was based upon TV and Ratings...
  • Re:I see no ads (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:18PM (#15677627) Journal
    BBC is a good news service, but the programs are complete shit.

    Well perhaps you missed:

    Black Books
    Dr Who
    BBC documentaries (some of the best in the world: Private life of plants, string theory, etc)
    Battlestar Galactica
    IT Crowd
    The office (UK)
    Ali G
    Alan Partridge
    That show about the priest who lives on the island that i forget the name of...
    And im sure ive forgotten a few. Even their shitty sitcoms (read little britian) are way funnier than the popular ones in the us (eg friends).

    The only worthwhile american tv is from HBO and PBS. Unless you like watching 'CSI: please kill us now' editions interspursed with reality tv and dating shows.

  • by DemonWeeping ( 849974 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:30PM (#15677808) Homepage
    Let's disable the mute, volume, channel, and power buttons while the commercials are running too!
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:53PM (#15678113) 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. ;)"

    That's why I pretty much only watch

    • Family Guy
    • Simpsons Reruns
    • Good Eats
    • Modern Marvels
    • Married w/Children Reruns (ok, brainless fun, but, Kelly Bundy WAS cute)
    • CNN and Fox News --add them together to get a decent balance of things in the world
    • Misc on Discovery, History and Food Channel

    Aside from those and few odds and ends...I really never watch commercial tv...I've not found anything interesting on them mostly for years. I like shows the make me belly laugh, or teach me something...the so called 'reality' stuff does neither. With a Tivo or MythTV..I can get plenty to watch that I like, and after awhile, I know neither what time it came on, nor what channel it came on. And I skip commercials with a vengence...

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @02:59PM (#15678191) Homepage Journal
    "f course, the obnoxiousness of watching a five-minute commercial would immediately cause the folks still watching normal-speed TV to go out and get DVRs in order to FF through them..."

    Depends on your DVR...on my MythTV [] box, I just hit a button, and it automagically skips ALL commercials instantly...there is no FF' button and ZAP you're back at your program.

    It works about 98% of the time too...I very rarely see any commericials at all...aside from Superbowl Sunday.

  • by seeks2know ( 702160 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @05:22PM (#15679456)
    With MythTV, I am able to skip or trim out all commercials regardless of what ABC and the MSOs do.

    In a similar way, I strip out most/all of the online ads via Firefox and AdBlock.

    My time is valuable and these tools allow me to view what I want to see without distraction and delay.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan