TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: New Technology Will Force TV Ad Viewing

New Technology Will Force TV Ad Viewing

May Wong (
Thu, 20 Apr 2006 10:47:34 -0500

By MAY WONG, AP Technology Writer

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.

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.

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

"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.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: If their intention is to disable the
channel selector during commercials, then they should also disable the
volume control and the mute button. Many television commercials I see
are much louder than the programs they are on with. PAT]

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