Royally Kranked

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Technology Has It's Downside

We love technology that makes our lives easier, our video & audio baubles are the toys we play with as adults, and I know I love my vcr and dvd players like children

But now comes a technological breakthrough that doesn't promise a good time for anyone but advertisers, an advancement that, when it comes to tv, gives new meaning to "Captive Audience", and I can't see how any consumers and couch potatos are going to stand for this

So, in the best movie villain tradition, lets get this out of the way first


New Technology May Force TV Ad Viewing

In this era of easy ad skipping with TiVo-like video recorders, could television viewers one day be forced to watch commercials with a system that prevents channel switching?

Yes, according to Royal Philips Electronics. A patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says researchers of the Netherland-based consumer electronics company have created a technology that could let broadcasters freeze a channel during a commercial, so viewers wouldn't be able to avoid it.

The pending patent, published on March 30, says the feature would be implemented on a program-by-program basis. Devices that could carry the technology would be a television or a set-top-box.

To repeat


Okay, maybe I'm overreacting here, as it appears there would be at least one option for viewers to get past this unwanted perfidy

Consider it the electronic equivalent of toll roads-You pay to avoid all the regular traffic & gridlock

Philips acknowledged, however, that the anti-channel changing technology might not sit well with consumers and suggested in its patent filing that consumers be allowed to avoid the feature if they paid broadcasters a fee.

Now why would Philips think viewers wouldn't be thrilled beyond belief that they'd have to watch the commercials, and why do I just know that it's only commercials I detest-ANY Wal-Mart "Good Works" ads immediately spring to mind-that would be locked on the picture tube?

Well, to be fair, Philips did give a bit of a backhand to advertisers dreaming of that captive viewing audience, no doubt at the behest of the Philips CEO & Board of Directors undoubtedly envisioning hordes of angry tv viewers angrily marching on Corporate Headquarters with pitchforks & torches in hand

On Wednesday, company officials issued a statement that noted the technology also enables the opposite: allowing viewers to watch television without advertising. The intention was never to force viewers to watch ads against their will, the company said of the technology.

"We developed a system where the viewer can choose, at the beginning of a movie, to either watch the movie without ads, or watch the movie with ads," the company stated. "It is up to the viewer to take this decision, and up to the broadcaster to offer the various services."

The company also said it had no plans to use the technology in any of its products.

Philips wanted to provide the technology and seek the patent only as part of the broader developments within the industry, Philips spokesman Andre Manning said.

Well, isn't that peachy keen, that viewers can choose to watch the movie with NO commercials breaking it up in the least

As long as the viewers are willing to pay for the lovely privilege of NOT being forced to sit through commercials

And really, why would anyone doubt that Philips developed the "locked-in commercials" technology NOT to use it at the first possible opportunity?

I mean, tech companies are ALWAYS spending vaultfuls of cash on technology they'll never use, right?


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