April 19, 2006 1:13 PM PDT

Philips device could force TV viewers to watch ads

An invention from Royal Philips Electronics prevents TV viewers from switching the channel during commercials or fast-forwarding past commercials when watching DVR content.

Viewers would be released from the freeze only after paying a fee to the broadcaster. The freeze would be implemented on a program-by-program basis, giving viewers a choice at the start of each one.

According to a recently published patent, the apparatus could work inside a set-top box. It would use the standard Multimedia Home Platform to receive a first control signal and then respond by taking control of the TV. The MHP would also be capable of sending the payment information that would lift the freeze, as it does when authorizing pay-per-view content.

If implemented, the invention would have a significant impact on television culture.

Many TV viewers are accustomed to the habit of watching two programs at once by flipping back and forth between channels during commercials. Philips' own remote controls currently cater to this habit with a button that automatically flips back to the last-watched channel.

The proposed apparatus would also aggravate children who use DVRs to zip through commercials to maximize their weekly TV-watching limits, set by parents. Some DVR technology even lets viewers watch one channel while recording another.

So, why then, would a television manufacturer risk angering its consumer base? Philips says: Don't shoot the inventor.

With this technology, it was the company's intention to develop a new paradigm for the watching of on-demand television, not to force people to watch commercials, said Caroline Kamerbeek, communications director for Philips International.

But according to Philips' U.S. Patent No. 20060070095, the apparatus would do just that. The device:

"1) prevents a viewer of a direct (nonrecorded) broadcast from switching channels when an advertisement is displayed and (2) prevents a viewer of a recorded program from fast-forwarding the recorded program in order to skip past advertisements that were recorded with the program. A viewer may either watch the advertisements or pay a fee in order to be able to change channels or fast-forward when the advertisements are being displayed."

Within the patent itself, there is a paragraph recognizing that the feature may anger television viewers. The writer of the patent warns that viewers may become confused by the freeze and blame the set-top box manufacturer employing the device instead of the authorizing broadcaster.

"We just provide the technology. It's up to the broadcaster to decide on how they use the technology," Kamerbeek said. "The invention gives viewers a choice to watch an entire movie with or without ads. You need both options in order to make that happen."

The patent was disclosed by New Scientist.

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Philips Electronics N.V., invention, patent, viewer, broadcaster

103 comments

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Thank you...
Thanks for disclosing the source of the material. It's much appreciated and doesn't happen frequently enough here.
Posted by Spammy McGriddle (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Forward Thinking or Not
What's all the Hubbub about? This is just a logical extension of PC (Political Correctness). Oh please somebody Protect me and tell me what to think. This is protecting you from yourself so You become the consumer zombie every Politically Correct thinker should be. Thought control in the offing. Great stuff we need more of this kind of thinking so we can all be safe and secure in our PC world.
Posted by ira_davis (12 comments )
Link Flag
Philips Can KMA !!
<eom>
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Kiss my Aunt???
I'd rather zip through that!

Seriously though...

Philips...I can still use the Mute button and close my eyes...right?
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
Can zip through commercials? What to do?
Simple: get any and everyone who emplys this tecno-woo-hoo-breakthrough to stop using it. Encounter an ad you can't get through quickly? Refuse to buy the product it's advertsing and then e-mail that comapny and let 'em know. Yipes! "A loss of revenue? Well, now, see, this is all a big mistake . . . just kidding, folks!"
Posted by E_Eddy_Edwards (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lawsuit
I see legal action coming if this is implimented. A person subscribing to broadcast service pays for the right to watch whatever they wish as long as it is paid for and authorized by the service. The broadcast service passes part of the fee along to networks for the right to broadcast channels. This is a contract, month by month or however you pay. No one hasd th right to dictate what you are forced to display on your TV. Notice I said "forced to display".

Try this on for size. I just became born again and partial nudity ads offend me. Say Victorias Secret ads. Now you have in effect taken away my right of freedom of religion by forcing the display of what I deem immoral. WHAP...ca-ching...pay me.

One more reason to make your own linux based personal digital recorder box.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Except...
Except the fact that they aren't forcing you to subscribe to their
service or watch TV at all. Just because you pay for a service
doesn't necessarily mean you have the right to do whatever you
want with it.

I'm not siding with this invention because I think it's ridiculous. I
just think you are too confident in your argument when it is, in
fact, lacking.
Posted by astro13rm (6 comments )
Link Flag
Bring back your VCR's and DTR's
With DVD's and other electronic video and audio content locking you out of the controls of your players preventing you from skipping through all this stuff, VCR's and DTR's have a usefullness in being able to record what you want then fast forwarding through all these Ads and other preview content you don't want to be bothered with.
Posted by sunntosheley (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Make advertisers pay for TV
Let's see... I pay the satelite company a monthly fee. I pay a fee for the TIVO service. Now they expect me to pay (who?) to disable advertising? How about a shift in thinking...

The way I see it, advertising should be forced to subsidize the entire cost of whatever service you get making (basic) cable/satelite free. Only then make us pay a monthly fee to disable advertising.
Posted by kookier (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another reason NOT to watch TV
Gee, keep it up guys. You already are wondering why people are watching less TV, then come up with this handy dandy invention.
Posted by User Information Private (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And Sony didn't think of it first?
There is sooo much I want to say about this, but the words escape me.

So instead, I give a Raspberry to the broadcast industry for continued abuse of viewers.
:-p
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Phillips for Me
I was acutally going to buy a new Phillips lcd flat panel tonight. After reading this article, however, I can't support a company that develops a technology that limits viewer choices to that degree. You've always been able to flip channels during a commercial. Bad move Phillips.
Posted by mspartacus (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not a new idea...
In fact, if you go back far enough in the
Slashdot history, you'd see the idea floated
around several years ago. Other ideas included
making it impossible for you to turn off the TV
during advertisements or specials, and
preventing the user from switching stations. How
about bidding for the right to watch what you
want -- if your bid comes above that of the
content pusher, you can switch stations,
otherwise you can only watch what they tell you
to.

Nope, nothing new here.

At least patenting it will curb it's adoption.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't shoot the inventor...BOYCOTT THEM!!!!
It's that simple.
Posted by crunch3k (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So Much For Phillips
I guess this is the last time that I purchase products from these yahoos! The topic is totally insane in it's concept. You shouldn't be coming up with stuff like this that is going to anger it's user's. Just not a good idea!
Posted by tmetzler (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
One thing people should remember...
I think this device it totally ridiculous and I believe the market will make short work of it...

However, with that said their is one thing that everyone needs to remember. "Content" is not free to create whether it's TV, movies, music or websites. Someone has to be willing to pay for it in the end. Generally that someone has been "Advertisers" or "Consumers".

As we in the Tivo-Age find more creative ways to prevent advertisers access to our eyeballs, they are going to be less and less likely to pick up the tab. The end result is that we as consumers will end up paying more.

So... For those of you who complain every time you have to watch an ad, just remember that in the end you will either pay with your eyes, or your pocketbook.

Personally I prefer a balance.
Posted by jbrunken (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HOLD UP!
I beg your almighty pardon? We who have more than an antenna on our television set ALREADY pay for what we watch! It doesn't matter if it's cable or satellite or whatever other means a person uses to get broadcasting other than a few basic local stations. As for myself, I pay over a hundred dollars a month, and that is WITHOUT the premium services, like HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, etc. I will rip the receiver AND my TIVO (that I PAY FOR EVERY MONTH ) out of the wall and send them back to where they came from if I have to pay another dime just so I can fast forward through some commercial that focuses on my kid, encouraging her to ask for bull **** she doesn't need in the first place.

I wish they would make us pay to NOT see something. It would give me the best reason in the world to sell my television sets.
Posted by Maylial (1 comment )
Link Flag
Here's what will happen.
The new boxes will become required by the cable cos just like they did in the transition to digital cable. Eventually they will prevent you from using any box but these ones with this technology. "Don't blame the inventor"? Of course we blame the inventor. If you hadn't invented it, the broadcast companies wouldn't have it to leverage against the consumer.

And I guarantee you, if they want to avoid lawsuits for millions, they've got two options.

1: Don't go forward with this technology.
2: Go forward with it, pay for every subscriber's cable service in full, then require a monthly fee for skipping ads.

There is NO way consumers will pay a monthly fee to the cable co AND a fee to the broadcaster to skip ads. It's one or the other; you don't get your cake and eat it too.
Posted by ReVeLaTeD (755 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Channel surfing no more?
So, let's see. I sit down in front of the boob tube to watch my favorite channel only to find a rerun playing. I start to channel surf and hit a program that's just cutting over to commercial. I am now stuck watching commercials for a program I wasn't even watching.

I can't tell if this is a brilliant way to get me to (1) save money by cancelling cable and (2) get out more and do something productive with my life. Or, is this just what it sounds like: a really stupid idea. Then again, maybe it's both: brilliantly stupid.
Posted by little.willie (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Moronic
What kind of sadistic person would ever think of such a horrible device?! That just hurts the viewer, and for me, puts any company using that off of my buy list.
Posted by ~Canuck~ (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe this is a good thing.
If they implemented this I'd not be watching much TV which would
be a good thing. I'd probably get much more exercise and
probably would even get some things done around the home.
Yeah, go ahead force me to stop watching TV. It's mostly crap
anyway.
Posted by nouser (191 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't even think about it!
They must think they are going to be selling alot of remote controls, to me that's what there idea is. Those things can only stand so much punishment
Posted by bob0081 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't even think about it!
They must think they are going to be selling alot of remote controls, to me that's what there idea is. Those things can only stand so much punishment
Posted by bob0081 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
grrr
This is a bad idea.

If you're channel surfing looking for a good show, you might miss the first minute of a really good show if an advert came on a split second on another channel you poinged over.

Me? If I was forced to watch an ad I could just as easily pull the plug :P
Posted by shentino (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe they should improve advertising...
You don't usually see folks forwarding through commercials during the superbowl, do you? Why not? Because they make more of an effort to grab our interest. Maybe advertisers should put out a better product, then we'd be more likely to watch their ads. Instead they're trying to ram their crap down our throats and tell us we should like it.
Honey still catches more flies than vinegar folks!
Posted by fiadamom (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with Sunntosheley
If the cable companies want to play this game, then let's hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. We can return our Tivos (which will cause a significant revenue loss) and go to DVRs and VCRS. The greed of corporate America is repulsive.
Posted by HC6700 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with Sunntosheley
If the cable companies want to play this game, then let's hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. We can return our Tivos (which will cause a significant revenue loss) and go to DVRs and VCRS. The greed of corporate America never ceases to amaze and repulse me.
Posted by HC6700 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with Sunntosheley
If the cable companies want to play this game, then let's hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. We can return our Tivos (which will cause a significant revenue loss) and go to DVRs and VCRS. The greed and lack of ethics of corporate America never ceases to amaze and repulse me. When is their profit enough. Do they have any sense of what's right or wrong.
Posted by HC6700 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with Sunntosheley
If the cable companies want to play this game, then let's hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. We can return our Tivos (which will cause a significant revenue loss) and go to DVRs and VCRS. The greed and lack of ethics of corporate America never ceases to amaze and repulse me. Is their ever enough profit will be enough? Do they have any sense of what's right or wrong.
Posted by HC6700 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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