Evil advertising

Nainen ratissa writes (in Finnish) how TV has become her slave instead of her being a slave to the TV. All thanks to a PVR (a digital TV box which contains X Gigabytes of hard drive for recording shows), she can now watch her programming anytime, and she gets to skip all the commercials at the flick of a button. I think this is great! Freedom, at last!

Of course, the media industry thinks this is all evil and we should do exactly as they want. Following the well-known comments of Jamie Kellner, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, who thinks that skipping advertisements is stealing, now comes ABC, the producer of such TV shows as "Lost", who wants the fast forward button on PVRs to be disabled, so that people would be unable to skip commercials.

Note that DVD's already have this: quite a few DVD's I've seen lately (rented or purchased) have a long, "anti-piracy" propaganda clip in the front, which cannot be skipped or fast-forwarded, and it just keeps going and going and going... It's almost irritating enough that I've considered if I should rip the DVD to my hard drive just so that I wouldn't need to watch the bloody clip anymore.

It's not a long step to add something like this to the digital TV standards. In fact, it would be trivial, and the DVB consortium (i.e. the guys who developed the current European digital TV) is already working on such a specification called Content Protection and Copy Management. It can also do things such as prevent something from being recorded (unless you pay an extra fee), or say that you can only watch something once, and then it will get removed permanently and automatically, or prevent you from moving your recording outside of say, Finland (so your entire video library might cease to function, if you move).

Of course, thanks to the new copyright legislation in place in Finland and elsewhere in Europe, at some point in time it will probably be illegal to own a device which can fast-forward through commercials, because it would circumvent a content protection system. Assuming it all gets adopted by device manufacturers. Which it might, if the media lobby can turn the heads of a majority of MEPs...

Would somebody please think of the consumers as well?

(Do you see why I sometimes want to forget all about technology and become a sheep farmer in Scotland? Or New Zealand, that might be more interesting.)


Yes, and they will blame recording when viewership numbers fall, just like the music industry blames downloading. How they can treat thier customers like shit and still expect to get viewers is beyond me. They already blast the sound of commercials so I hit the mute button during breaks, I guess I'm stealing. I'm not a women so unless there are young women prancing around in panties I ignore tampon and clothing adds - guess I'm stealing. I'm not a senior citizen so I ignore prostrate, arthritis, blood pressure, and basically all medical adds - guess I'm stealing there too. I'm a vegetarian - so I guess I'm stealing any content paid for by McDonalds, Burger King, and the like. I like good beer, so here in America that means I'm not paying attention to bud light, miller light, michelob light, or most any other beer commercial - hell, now that I think about it - I've been pirating most of my TV. And I rent, so there goes Home Depot, and all the rest. Sure, I've always felt bad because I didn't give to the public broadcasting stations during thier fundraisers but now I really feel bad for Ted Turner and the network. Imagine, I'm stealing content from one of the richest group of people in the world by not being the zombie that they need. I am a horrible person.

--ScottHurlbertAnAlmostAnonymousCoward, 12-Jul-2006

I guess this means if I'm in a foriegn country I can't watch TV either, as I won't understand the ads in French or Spanish, German, whatever.

--Scott, 12-Jul-2006

Yes, you're an awful person and a bad consumer ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 12-Jul-2006

Well, while I would love to agree with all of that, and I hate commercials as much as the next guy, none of us are "entitled" to free tv.

Conversely, it's not "stealing" either, because none of us have agreed to a moral code with regard to television broadcasts... you might just as well put me in jail if I talk to the person next to me instead of dutifully watch the commercial! :)

The point is, however, that when television has no business value, companies will cease to advertise and there will be far fewer and lower quality programs in the long run.

Of course they can always target the X percent of the viewing world who does not have PVR devices, and as long as X is a large enough number everyhting will be just fine.

--AnonymousCoward, 13-Jul-2006

I'm sorry, but that is exactly the kind of crap that they would have you believe. The thing is, advertisers are among the most innovative people on this planet (just look at Google ~AdWords and other online advertising, and the fact that they don't lament technological advance). Ad agencies understand how people work - that's their job. The market forces won't suddenly stop working because of a technological gizmo. They will find a way to advertise to us, don't worry.

But what will probably happen is that the current ad schemes will have to change, and this is scaring the media industry. They don't see new potential, they only see the losses when traditional TV advertising moves to new venues. They are the ones who are afraid, and they are trying to tell you that "if you fast forward, all good TV programs will die."

The content will always be there. The advertising will be there, too. And they'll find ways to connect.

It's just the middle men who change.

Besides, I find the notion of "free TV" somewhat odd. From a watcher's point of view - if you're not paying for it, it's free. And then there are the corporate/instutional channels, like religious channels. Not to mention publicly funded TV, though that could be argued that it is paid in taxes. Also, some countries like Finland have a yearly "TV license fee", which makes all TV non-free. Which confuses the issue even more.

--JanneJalkanen, 13-Jul-2006

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"Main_blogentry_110706_1" last changed on 11-Jul-2006 12:02:41 EEST by JanneJalkanen.