Not So Fast, Forward

According to an editorial being run by the New York Times, the ability to fast-forward through television commercials may soon be curtailed as part a plan being ushered in by the next generation of home entertainment devices:

THEY will take my remote control away only when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

This thought followed my first reading of a patent application for a new kind of television set and digital video recorder recently filed by a unit of Royal Philips Electronics at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The design appears to threaten the inalienable right to channel-surf during commercials or fast-forward through ads in programs you've taped.

A second, calmer reading of the patent application revealed that the proposed design would uphold the right to avoid commercials, but only for those who paid a fee. Those disinclined to pay would be prevented from changing channels during commercials. If the viewer tried to circumvent the system by recording the program and skipping the ads during playback, the new, improved recorder would detect when a commercial segment was being displayed and disable the fast-forward button for the duration.

As a business proposition, the concept appears dead on arrival: what consumer would voluntarily buy a television designed to charge fees for using it?

Originally by NYT > Technology, 10:43 AM