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Turner CEO: "PVR Users Are Thieves" 971

mrbrown1602 writes: "It was bound to happen - 2600.com is reporting that Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner is calling PVR users thieves. When asked why personal video recorders are bad for the industry, Keller says 'Because of the ad skips.... It's theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming.' Since when have we made contracts with the broadcasters for watching their content? More of the 2600 article can be found here."
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Turner CEO: "PVR Users Are Thieves"

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  • by spookysuicide ( 560912 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:54AM (#3448639) Homepage
    Apparently there was no clause in the contract about quality of programming, have you seen the crap on TNT?
    • by spookysuicide ( 560912 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:57AM (#3448653) Homepage
      And on another note, on most of the turner stations, the ads are the best thing they're broadcasting.
  • Give me a break. Next they'll ban remote controls that let you turn the sound off during ads.
    • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:42AM (#3449070) Homepage Journal

      Face it, its their way of trying to make you feel morally wrong for doing what you have a right to do.

      You paid for access to the information, once it gets to you its YOURS to do whatever you want with it, or at least thats how it should be. information is NOT an object, its more like air, they want to charge you for air and then say you are a thief if you use the air in the wrong way, (example you find a way to use the air to create more air)
    • by ThePilgrim ( 456341 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:39AM (#3449225) Homepage
      Smith. 487536 Smith, Winston. I saw you blinking suring that advert.

      BB is watching you.
    • Give me a break. Next they'll ban remote controls that let you turn the sound off during ads.

      If he thinks I have a contract to watch the ads, then he also had a contract: (1) to go back to just showing about 2 minutes of spots every 15 minutes instead of making them every 7 or 8 minutes and taking more than 1/2 of the time; (2) to not have my volume blasted when an ad comes on.

      I signed no contract with him or anyone else to watch commercials. But I do question that all seem to put commercials on the same time. Is that collusion between networks???

  • by sflanker ( 146802 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:56AM (#3448649) Homepage
    How does receiving publicly broadcast data bind you to a contract? It wasn't in the EULA when I bought my TV.
  • Ha Ha friggin Ha. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erik_Kahl ( 260470 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:57AM (#3448655)

    This is silly. I pay my damned cable company ~50 for the right to watch whatever portion I want of what they send down the wire. I didn't agree to watch everything they offer.

    Are they going to come and beat me now up if I flip the channel during a commercial. I almost always do.

    This is silly.

  • I really don't know how else to phrase it other then what I put in my subject. I can not beleive they call this shit theft. These exces must have shit their pants when VCRs come out. All PVRs for the the purposes of these execs are faster VCRs. I agree with the post, this is bullshit. I can't say I signed a contract with anyone when I watch TV. Shit, before I just channel surffed - I guess I was breaking the contract with that one too. Btw, they broke their contract with their shitty programing, no?
  • If skipping ads is akin to stealing, then I'm public enemy number one. Personally, I never watch ads. Whenever I tape a show, I'll fast-forward the commericals. And if I'm watching a show while it's on, I'll flick during the ads. I hate commercials.

    I'd better start watching my back. The feds could pick me up at any moment.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:17AM (#3448967) Homepage
    I don't look at ads anywhere -- on television, at the cinema, on shopping center walls... And yet I continue to keep my eyes open and see everything else!

    I am stealing all of society! I will crush the world economy! It is my evil masterplan!

    Bwahahaha! Ha-ha!
    • laugh now.
      but bill and ted will have their revenge:
      - digital television, brought to you through your xbox2.
      - advertising overlays on your shows every three minutes that you can only get rid of by pressing a special key combo on your xbox controller

      what's scary is that you could almost see something like this happening. how fucked up is that?
      • what's scary is that you could almost see something like this happening. how fucked up is that?

        Almost happening!? It already does happen! I don't remember what channel it was but they were showing some movie and had this big ass graphics overlay run across the screen advertising another television show that was coming "next month" to their channel. Why in the FUCK do they think I care? Does they really need to inform you of that in the middle of the program? Then you get the clowns like TNN and the E network who put a huge band across the bottom of the screen and scroll text across it while the show is on. Also, pretty much every channel now puts their big old logo sitting in the corner of the screen now. Yes, thank you NBC, home of the Olympics. Thank you for putting your huge ass logo on the screen all the time. If it wasn't there I would forget to look at the channel indicator and might think I was watching CBS.
        • If it wasn't there I would forget to look at the channel indicator and might think I was watching CBS.

          Actually, with Tivo it's nearly that way now. I program the shows I want. I don't care what channel or time they are on. Later, I come back to the machine and see what it's recorded for me and I watch it. Channel? What channel? (Prime example: in response to the Max Headroom article from earlier this week, I ran to my Tivo and programmed Title: "Max Headroom", Keep: Until I delete. Tech TV? WTF? Who cares?

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:19AM (#3449168)

      > I am stealing all of society! I will crush the world economy! It is my evil masterplan!

      I go further and add insult to injury, by getting up and making a peepee during commercials.

      Take that! I pith on your profitability, Turner Broadcathting!

  • by Sarin ( 112173 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:19AM (#3448974) Homepage Journal
    Normally I just zap away during a commercial break.
    If they get what they want then I can imagine a future with digital tv, when you zap away the commercial break too long, you will be banned from watching the end of the show.
    There's going to be all kinds of irritating rules if we don't watch out.
  • Other Crimes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jackal! ( 88105 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:21AM (#3448980) Homepage

    Skiping commercials is theft? Then what about hitting mute? What about going to the bathroom? What about talking loudly to your loved ones during commercial? Gonna send us to jail for that?

    Should we envision a dark future where you watch a show and then are QUIZZED on the ads you saw? If you pass you're good, if you fail you're fined? That's the only way I can see this form of theft ever really held in check.

    When I buy something and take it home or have it delivered to my home, I can do whatever I want with it. If I buy something I can use it however I want. I can even throw it away if I want. Same should apply with my cable television. I paid for it, it was delivered. I didn't sign any contracts promising I'd watch any single second of it, and whatever I do with it is up to me -- the sale never stated otherwise.

    And what about broadcast television? What are your signals doing tresspassing on my property? Okay, that one's a bit silly, there are federal regulations for airwaves, but it isn't much siller than calling skipping an ad theft.

    • Exactly. What kind of crap are they trying to pull? This sounds like some kind of Taliban influenced thinking. Most people I know switch channels when there are commercials on, everyone hates them and irritated by them. They love getting the shows on VCD because they can watch it when they want and without commercials.

      Stopping PVRs is stupid and should be ignored by everyone.
    • The less attention you pay to an add the more effective it is. Advertisers want the ads to pass right to your subconscious with as little critical thought as possible. If you don't pay much attention to the ad (yelling at kids, nodding off, wanking, whatever) great.

      If you flip channels or skip or whatever, then you cost 'em money.

      Not that I'm defending their idiotic position, but I just thought I'd point that out.
    • Re:Other Crimes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dunstan ( 97493 ) <dvavasour@iee. o r g> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:27AM (#3449194) Homepage
      Reminds me of a campaign which ran in the newspapers here (GB) encouraging advertisers to buy newspaper advertising space. It pictured a couple enjoying married congress on the sofa with the TV on in the background and said "accorting to audience statistics these people are watching your advert - who's really being screwed?".

      Of course Turner's real concern isn't whether people skip the adverts, it's whether he gets paid by the advertisers, in which case it's not a lot different to websites saying "please click on the banner ads so we get money from the advertisers".


      BTW, is this the same Turner as runs TNT? I happened to be in the US for the 1990 World Cup, and remember that TNT repeatedly interrupted the live soccer to run adverts while play continued, and it was the same adverts over and over and over again. After that I vowed never to by "Tums" again. Worse, they ran trailers for their own World Cup coverage instead of cutting back to the game which was going on. Madness.
      • "After that I vowed never to by "Tums" again."

        These days the only thing commercials do to me is make me resolve NOT to ever buy their product.
    • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @09:50AM (#3450187) Journal
      What about going to the bathroom?
      Unbelievably, he addresses this very question:
      CW: What if you have to go to the bathroom or get up to get a Coke?

      JK: I guess there's a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom. But if you formalize it and you create a device that skips certain second increments, you've got that only for one reason, unless you go to the bathroom for 30 seconds. They've done that just to make it easy for someone to skip a commercial.

      A certain amount of tolerance? What if I have a bladder infection and exceed that certain amount of tolerance? Holy Out-of-Touch-with-Reality, BatMan!

      My certain amount of tolerance of overreaching entertainment industry executives has been breached long ago.

    • Re:Other Crimes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jelle ( 14827 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:27AM (#3450417) Homepage
      Right on the bat.

      I think Kellner is responding to messages from his advertisers that they realize that a lot of people don't actually watch the TV commercials and want to pay less.

      On the Internet, one of the factors in the dot com bomb was declining ad revenues because advertisers realized that the banner ad wasn't worth as much as what they were paying for it. Maybe the same advertisers are now questioning the value of TV ads.

      As they should, because I've seen enough beep-beep commercials (I just bought a new car, am not looking for another), neither do I have herpes or am I looking for a lawyer. The time of mass media marketed TV ads is over, advertisers are realizing how relatively worthless they are.

      What PVRs can do for you is viewer profiling and targeted ads. After a couple of car ads, I'd tell the machine I just bought a new car, and then it will show me commercials for accessories for my new car, and cell phones and PDAs instead, because I'm in the market for new ones right now. What counts in advertising is eyeballs, and another car ad doesn't get my eyeballs right now, it doesn't matter whether I'm looking live or recorded TV.

      Really, this will become one of the classic examples that established industry first fights ferociously against changes, and in the end praises the changed environment.
  • Stealing (Score:2, Funny)

    by mmThe1 ( 213136 )
    you're actually stealing the programming

    Okay! I will record only the ads and watch them 200 times...hope that will compensate them for the loss...

  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:24AM (#3448989) Homepage
    The bad news is the Supreme Court betamax decision, if you read it in detail, may not protect automatic commercial skipping, though it would probably protect manual skipping like the 30 second button or 60x FF.

    I've written up an essay of one possible result of the conflict between commercial TV, PVRs, commercial skip and DRM.

    You can read about The future of TV [templetons.com] in the essay.

    • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:16AM (#3449157) Homepage
      Well, to get technical, this is how it works. Recording a program off the air is, the court agreed, covered by copyright. If you recorded tapes off the air and tried to sell 'em (normally a right you have under first sale doctrine) you would definitely get nailed, and the court would agree about it.

      So what they said was that the reason you made the copy made a difference in whether you needed permission or not. They said, quite reasonably, that if the reason you made the copy was to watch it later, that was cool, and you don't need the permisison of the studio. Because this was ruled a fair use, it meant the VCR was not an illegal device, the way the studios wanted it to be. It has other uses, such as recording Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers, a big believer in sharing, came into the court and said he didn't mind if people taped his shows. Again, this meant to the court that the VCR must be legal.

      That created a good standard that said that even though you could make infringing copies of movies with the VCR, it was still legal as a device because you could also do totally legal things with it. All good news.

      The bad news comes when you read why they said it was OK to time-shift. Back in 1978, studies showed few people fast forwarded over commercials. No surprise, it was a pain to do it with a 1978 model VCR. Thus, the court said, people are just watching the shows at other times, and still seeing the commercials, so what are you studios complaining about? This box is getting you more viewers.

      But if the court had decided that those viewers were skipping the commercials, they might have not ruled the same way. With newer tech, the story could have been different. The vote was only 5 to 4 -- just one judge changing his mind and the VCR would have been illegal, along with a lot of other tech.

      And yes, leading the dissenters was our current chief justice.

      Nobody knows how the modern court would rule. But you can't take out protection for automatic commercial skip from the older decision.

      Of course, going to the bathroom during a live show doesn't have anything to do with copying, so it doesn't even come up. The law is all about copying, not about the commercials. Normally you can't copy at all, other than for the fair uses. The court said watching it later was a fair use. More recently, a lower court ruled that watching it on another device is a fair use too.

      (This was a bit of an expansion of what fair use is, since most of the time it referred to republishing, not personal copying.)

      The fight to protect technology will not be an easy one, unfortunately. This decision is more narrow than we might hope. However, the current court is a pretty good free speech court, and we have hope that they will approve free speech arguments.
  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:24AM (#3448991)
    Why do I pay for cable? I remember when they were laying out the lines that it was supposed to be that you paid for a subscription to avoid ads!


    And cable stations didn't have to following the 7 dirty words and decency regulations.

    What a crock. MTV is sanitized, no one shows skin, its all a failure.

    Sorry, Turner, you and your mogul pals failed to deliver. How about showing European style ads with breasts showing? I hate American TV for how sanitized it is. Forget you TED.

    I feel like getting a Tivo - I have already upgraded several for my friends, I should just do it. Thanks for MFSTools.

    As for Turner's content, it's a joke. Time for Direct TV with a Tivo BUILT IN!!!

    End rant;
  • WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Deltan ( 217782 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:25AM (#3448996)
    That's right kids, your cable bill buys you.. spam! Not just any spam, but spam that talks to you and tells you how much you need their products.

    I don't remember agreeing to anything about watching commercials and actually wanting to. Nowhere did I put my john hancock on a piece of paper saying, "I wanna see Billy Mays pimp more Oxi Clean to me!"

    Someone explain to me PVR's are any different from VCR's with "VCR Plus!" which automatically mark commercials and skip over them when you watch a recorded tape. Same thing, except it's not instantaneous like a PVR. Why is one stealing and one is not?

    AOL TW if you're reading. Wanna save some of that 45B mark down? Fire her ass, you'll save yourselves a whole lotta grief down the road.

    Don't forget! When you're stealing TV (that you paid for), you're watching communism. :P
  • disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gvonk ( 107719 ) <slashdot AT garrettvonk DOT com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:27AM (#3449001) Homepage

    The only payment for a lot [of content] is the willingness of the viewer to watch the spot, the commercial. That's part of the contract between the network and the viewer. For anybody to step in between that content and encourage the viewer to disregard the payment in time that he's making--I think everybody should fight those people...or let the viewer have a subscription model where they pay for that, in which case the monies can be taken in and distributed back to cover the loss of the ad revenue.

    This is wrong on so many levels. I can watch whatever the fuck I want to of the television programming you send into my house. If I want to watch only 3 minutes of CSPAN perday and nothing else, so be it. If I want to watch only the 5 or 6 interesting shows on the air, so be it. If I want to close my eyes and not watch the ads or find some other way to not watch them, too freakin bad for you! YOU were the one who decided that the volatile business model of selling advertising would bring you stable profits; you are the one taking the risk and putting together the programming together in the first place.
    I don't owe you anything.
    • Re:disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dimator ( 71399 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:12AM (#3449140) Homepage Journal
      YOU were the one who decided that the volatile business model of selling advertising would bring you stable profits

      Volatile? This is how television has worked for decades. This model is what pays the stars of the shows millions of dollars per episode. It's hardly volatile.

      The interesting thing is, does it really matter if you watch the ads or not? Networks' ad revenue is based on how many people watch a show, which is based on Nielson ratings. It is NOT based on how many people buy something after they see an ad, because that is pretty hard to determine.

      So if a Nielson family PVR's a show, it will still show up in it's Nielson rating. Who cares if everyone *else* watches or doesnt watch the ads?

      • Re:disgusting (Score:5, Informative)

        by kadehje ( 107385 ) <erick069@hotmail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @08:51AM (#3449815) Homepage
        The interesting thing is, does it really matter if you watch the ads or not? Networks' ad revenue is based on how many people watch a show, which is based on Nielson ratings. It is NOT based on how many people buy something after they see an ad, because that is pretty hard to determine.

        That statement is slightly incorrect. Networks advertising revenue is based not only on how many people watch a show, but also on the what advertisers are willing to pay to show ads to each viewer. For example, Anheuser-Busch will pay a lot more per viewer to have Budweiser ads shown during an ESPN hockey game than during Oprah Winfrey's show because the two target audiences are different. If technology makes it easier for viewers to skip advertisements, then it can be expected that the advertiser's perecieved value for TV spots will drop, assuming the audience size does not grow. This is a reasonable assumption to make since if even fewer people now than before are viewing an ad, then fewer new sales can be expected as a result of a given television ad campaign. Thus networks will experience a drop in revenue because of this.

        On the other hand, calling the user of PVR's theives will not do these networks any good, and risks further alienating people from these outlets' programming. Technology changes: they need to deal with it, and I believe most will do so in the long run. IMO, the pay cable channels like HBO and Showtime have the right idea: produce top-notch, ad-free programming and air popular movies long before any other television outlet (beside PPV), and people will gladly pay $12-15 a month for your product. If a similar premium service came out that aired sports in a similar fashion at a similar price, then I would cancel all of my other basic cable channels in a heartbeat and be happy with over-the-air and two premium services for ~$30/month that I will watch on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, the rules of American sports make explicit allowances for TV timeouts and the like, so a premium ESPN doesn't seem possible for the near future.
      • Re:disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @09:05AM (#3449888) Homepage
        • So if a Nielson family PVR's a show, it will still show up in it's Nielson rating

        With a big old question mark over it regarding whether the ads were actually watched. Advertisers - who have to pretend to believe that advertising has an effect - will happily use any uncertainty to leverage pay deals.

        There's an interesting advert airing in the UK at the moment, for the main satellite broadcaster. They're selling a tweaked PVR that also decodes two channels at once. The advert is about how subversive this is. Unspecified Men In Black are aghast that Joe Consumer is pausing live TV and watching one channel while recording another. What they don't say is that you can skip adverts. It's a very intruiging angle on it; the broadcasters are clearly uncomfortable with the idea. It doesn't feel right, even to them, and they backed away from pushing one of the big selling points, the ad skips.

        Incidentally, in the UK, ratings are gathered minute-by-minute, so they know if we're channel hopping during the adverts. The ratings households also have their VCR recordings watermarked, so their viewings are registered when they play them back. I don't know if they can detect advert skips in a recording, or whether the watermarking works on PVR's. I do know that they're worried about digital content, as we went a week or so at the start of the year with no figures, when they screwed up the rollout of a new interim system to track figures, while they come up with a complete solution to registering all digital content play through the TV.

        Now there's a thought. What's the difference between recording and playing back to my PVR, between me getting that same digital content from someone else, or downloading a copy from the 'net, or for that matter using my TV to play a sports game from my PC or console which has in game advertising?

        I can see why this is keeping the advertising droids awake at night. If they want to continue pretending that advertising works, they'll need some pretty smart hardware - or some pretty harsh legislation. And it's that latter thought that worries me. If you thought the RIAA and MPAA were bad, wait until the advertising market wakes up and smells the digital coffee.

    • (I actually saw this argument on TV a while ago, so *of course* it must be true. ;-)

      The people who are paying for the TV shows are those who buy goods from the advertisers, regardless of whether they watch the shows or not - the viewers are being subsidised by those who buy anyway.

      So if you really want to get your TV for free, you have to watch *all* the commercials on *all* the channels, and avoid buying *anything* from the companies who advertise. Simply ignoring the commercials isn't good enough, because you might inadvertently buy something that was advertised and thus make a contribution to the TV channel's budget.

    • Re:disgusting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dirk ( 87083 )
      While I disagree with saying PVR is basically theft, we have to consider the ramifications of TV with no commercials (or commercials which are watched by no one). Commercials are the only way commercial TV stations generate money. The only other way I can think of for them to generate money is to charge for their channel (and if this happen, cable prices would increase probably 20 times) or to include ads in the actual shows themselves. The problem with the first is obvious, but there is a bigger problem with the second solution. If ads are included in the show (say the cast of friends always have to mention how much they love Jif peanut butter) you start to lose show content and more importantly, show control. If the advertising is integrated with the show, advertisers will rightly want to control how their ads show up. They won't want the evil murder on Law and Order talking about how he loves to spread Jif peanut butter on dead bodies. SO creators lose control of at least part of the content of their shows, which makes for much worse television.

      I don't agree that PVRs are theft, but I see no other ways TV can stay free (or even affordable for most people) and have no one watching the commercials.
  • FINE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <gnovos.chipped@net> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:28AM (#3449006) Homepage Journal
    Then I'll just take my public airwaves back please... Oh, NOW who's the thief?
  • if I'm a thief of your precious IP then you're a thief of my far more valuable freedoms. Your entire business is a government created business. It cannot exist without state intervention into the economy. In a true lassiez faire nation you would not exist or would be scraping by. Don't whine and bitch and moan to me, you people are worse than welfare babies. Both you and welfare babies have to suck off the public teat for your sustinanice, but at least the welfare babies are even a little bit greatful for what society gives them. You miserable little shits expect society to hand over its cash and rights to you and then respect you and for you to not have to in any way show appreciation.

    That is what I would say to that exec if I was called a thief by such a person to my face.....
  • I personally like to watch commercials if they are good quality.
    i.e. Nike ads etc
    so if they can make ads attractive enough, ppl like me will WATCH it
  • Does this mean.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:30AM (#3449014)
    ..if I decide to watch the ads, I can quit paying money to watch cable?

    I was under the impression that the money I pay to my cable company - Time Warner, which is a Turner enterprise in its own right - is passed along to the cable content providers in licensing fees. I thought that my cable subscription fee was divvied up and sent piece by piece to Showtime, E!, the Comedy channel, etc. I guess perhaps I've been wrong all these years, and Turner is giving the programming to my (Turner) cable company? That Turner isn't making a penny off the fees I pay to my cable company? Ignoring, of course, the obvious Turner-Time Warner relationship.

    I really don't get it. I pay for cable programming, it has commercials. My local TV stations are free, they have commercials. Guess which channels on which I'm more likely to mute/skip commercials? Damn right - the channels I pay for.

    • Re:Does this mean.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      You are right, the cable provider pay's hefty fees to carry each channel. Some newer channels and the moron channels(tv shopping and infomercial channels) pay the cable system to carry it. While again some channels like Discovery have a regular rate but FORCE the cable carrier to also carry their off-shoot channels.. like discovery-kids, discovery-vasectomy, and discovery-rerun channels.

      If any TV network or cable network tries to tell you (Espically the Turner scumbags) they are hurting because of this then you can be assured that is is a 100% lie. Someone needs to go public calling the Turner network anti-american (Duh, it has been for years, look at who turner is married to) and call the CEO a hypocritical liar. Yes, calling him a liar in public will get things rolling.

      This Bullcrap has to stop and it has to stop now. Why the hell do these overpaid SOB's get to make bold-faced lies to the public and not get called on the carpet about it?

      I think it's time to start forming an angry mob.
  • by j09824 ( 572485 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:31AM (#3449018)
    What's going to be next? This [angelfire.com]???
  • No problem (Score:2, Funny)

    by ragefan ( 267937 )
    Well, i don't bother to use my TiVo to record the lame edited movies on TBS and TNT, I'd rather watch the whole movie!!
  • Social contract? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:35AM (#3449037) Homepage Journal
    Maybe he just means 'social contract'. But still, if you can claim someone owes you anything simply for passively listening to radio waves broadcast on public spectrum unencrypted, you seriously need to reevaluate your position.

    Its a bit different with cable, since you do actually sign a contract, but I doubt "must watch the adds" is a clause.

    And how is this different from flipping channels, or going to the bathroom or something during a regular TV show? Or fast forwarding through commercials on a tape?

    really, turner's CEO's position is really pretty tenuous...
    • by interiot ( 50685 )
      There are already exceptions to the "I can listen to anything on the public airwaves I want" notion. It's illegal to 1) listen to other's cellular phone conversations, or 2) import or manufacture a device that allows one to do that. 10 years ago, the idea of such a law would have been laughable, because there's unencrypted stuff passing through your body, right? Now it's law. Today, a law that states that you can't listen to the television airwaves without using a certified TV would be laughable. 10 years from now, it may be ancient history, simply accepted by the lemmings^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hconsumers.
  • enough is enough (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kars ( 100858 )
    Now maybe if they'd only show two or three ads an hour, I wouldn't mind watching them so much...
  • Ad Detecting VCRs (Score:5, Informative)

    by galaga79 ( 307346 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:36AM (#3449042) Homepage
    What about those VCRs that have mechanisms for detecting and skipping ads? They must really instill fear in the likes of Jamie Kellner and co.

    After a quick Google I found an example of such device, being the Hitachi VT-FX880E that has a feature called Commercial Advantage. I am not sure how effective it is but his a snippet taken from a review [homecinemachoice.com]

    If the FX880 were a computer Commercial Advantage would be described as its killer app. What it actually reflects is Hitachi ingeniously tackling the old problem of getting rid of the ads from programmes recorded from commercial TV stations. There have been attempts to do this almost from the dawn of the VCR but most have attempted to blank out the ads completely. What Commercial Advantage cleverly does is detect when an ad break starts, automatically kicks into fast forward and then drops back to normal speed when the programme resumes, all without you having to lift a finger.

    It does this by detecting a signal that is sent at the beginning of each ad break which effectively returns a network to local programming so ads for that region can be shown. A signal at the end of the break marks network programming restarting and the end of the Commercial Advantage option. As with all good ideas it is deceptively simple but not without its faults. In our tests of the feature we found CA kicking in at the start of local TV promo spots (trailers, etc) that run before the advertisements themselves. Even so, it's a great idea and a genuinely useful one.

    • Re:Ad Detecting VCRs (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @06:52AM (#3449368) Homepage
      what it is attempting to detect are Cue tones.. and they happen from 5-3 seconds before the break is to start (depending on the network, the delay was for tape decks to get up to speed, now we use Pentium 133 machines inserting 24 Mpeg2 streams at once.... cool hardware) The problem with the VCR and why it is now a flop is that the new digital insertion equipment filters out the touchtones that are the Cue tones (Usually a *XXX to start with XXX being a number sequence and a #XXX to be a stop tone, they dont send those and are almost always ignored except for live events)

      so this vcr would not work today. and digital cable channels dont use old-fashoned touch tone based Cue tones but a 3rd digital audio carrier sent on the sattelite feed that is fed directly to the ad insertion equipment and is never a part of the signal that leaves the cable TV headend.

      The ONLY way you are going to detect and remove commercials is with a luminance level detector and a type of "AI" to watch a few of the shows and determine the approximation of the ad-break times and then work on assumptions. AD's are 30 and 60 seconds in length and breaks are from 2 to 4 minutes in length with Turner networks averaging 8 minutes or more. (UPN does 10 I swear!)
      • It's never failed when recording any channel off of DirecTV satellite.

        I don't know if it's the same technology but here's what it does: records the show, and after it's stopped (or powered off by the sat receiver) the VCR travels back through the tape and marks the commercials. It may not be using cue tones, but whatever it is (alien mind-rays?) it's worked perfectly every time I've recorded anything. On UPN, FOX, TLC, WB, ABC, etc.

  • Why is it that they haven't figured out that declining profits are of their own making?

    Ted, let me tell you something. It's not pirates who are killing your bottom line. It's not the guys who trade your files on Kazaa or Usenet.

    It's you. It's your cartel-like pricing, coupled with your outright hostility for the people who have to buy your product. GM tried this tactic in the 70's. At one time they had a greater than 50% market share. Today they are still trying to recover from their mistakes.

    Keep legislating. I'll keep voting with my pocketbook. I quit buying CDs two years ago. I quit buying DVDs after a few of Jack Valenti's rants this year. If it comes down to it, I'll pull Time Warner out of the wall and only watch the media I've currently paid for and own. Turn my computer into a glorified toaster and I'll never buy another.

    You know what? I'll deal. I thought getting rid of CDs would be bad. It hasn't. DVDs were even easier because I'd been down the road with CDs. Suddenly, I've got a lot more disposable income to spend on other things and other passtimes. I figure this year alone the RIAA and MPAA should save me about $5,000 with their predatory tactics.

    Keep it up guys, I'm sure I'm not the only one who is spending their money on things other than your overpriced product.
  • I am suprised it took this long for a broadcaster to finally come out after the PVR people for something like this. I expected it a long time ago when PVR's first hit the scene. I think that instead of putting commercial breaks between the show we will start seeing picture-in-picture commercials or we will see MUCH more product placement in shows, perhaps with the stars of the shows themselves doing advertising like the Truman Show. Either that or an annoying block of text scrolling at the bottom of the screen, however advertisers probably don't feel there is enough sex appeal in scrolling text.

    The only thing I know is that PVRs are here to stay, so broadcasters are going to have to change thier business model accordingly.
  • Information is not a physical object, it cannot be stolen.
    It can be copied, shared, illegally distributed, but to call someone a thief or a pirate, is just a way of issuing out your propaganda, to make you feel morally wrong for doing whats right.

  • I wonder, does this "contract" that we have with the networks also mean that we must buy things too? What if we make a point of expressly NOT buying everything we see in commercials, would that make us thieves if we DO watch the commercials?

    Once again, it's old worn-out business models running at hurricane speeds into the reenforeced concrete wall of technology and progress. If they absolutly demand that thier advertisements get seen, then start using product placement in the shows! Oh, wait, that would hurt thier lucrative syndication racket^H^H^H^H^H market. How about making thier business a micropayment one, where you pay per minute watched (with ads deducting from the bill)? Oh, that would require innovation and investment on thier part. Again, not going to happen.

    As soon as all of the *cough* "Content" industries fail we may finally have a chance to see some real creative innovation in both the kinds of shows we watch and the models in which we pay for them, but until then, I'll just sit back and enjoy watching them squirm about like the stuck pigs that they are.

  • 5 years from now, there will be no commercial breaks. They will just stick a huge banner on the screen all the time like CNN/Fox news do now but with adverts. I guarantee it.

    Well, actually they will probably still have commercial breaks. Fat lazy Americans who spend all their time in front of the TV will complain because they need to have pee breaks.

    This is quite different from us intellectual people who spend all their time surfing slashdot/k5/fark/etc and have the luxury of urinating whenever we want to.
  • by MrHat ( 102062 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @04:47AM (#3449086)
    I'm sure they wouldn't mind producing this 'contract', then. What's that? I didn't sign a contract? Well, that's interesting. Perhaps they meant 'broken business model' and not 'contract'.

    Additionally, maybe this fucktard Kellner can explain how I go about stealing something I've already paid for. I'd love to hear that one.

    I swear to God, the year that we perfect a method to endlessly duplicate food will be the year in which half of the US population starves to death.

    In the rare chance that Slashdot is still here when that happens, I'll post an 'I told you so' message. I'll be the one with a shotgun and a food duplicator, hiding in my basement, posting from the only Apple IIe that survived the circumvention crackdown of 2015. I'm saving this link. I expect a +5.
  • CEO is right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Badger ( 1280 )
    Well, now that I've got your attention....

    Let's think about it this way: let's say in five years, everyone owns a VCR that removes commercials. Thus, no one ever watches commercials, and all broadcast networks go out of business. You know what all the Slashdot posters will be doing? Posting here because they can't afford to pay for their shows!

    People, look, you can whine all day about how you deserve to get everything for free. At the end of the day, someone has to pay for it, though. Yes, you can go to the bathroom, channel surf, use mute, whatever. The point is, with all those methods, the advertiser has a chance to get to you first. You can ignore it, but the advertiser can still catch your attenetion. With a Tivo, that doesn't happen anymore. You can skip commericals with no risk of missing anything.

    Think of it like a timeshare deal, where you get the free weekend for listing to the sales pitch. You might very well go there with no intention of buying anything, and you may well leave without spending any money. The point is, you can't skip the sales pitch. Everyone gets to take their shot since you took the offer. Same with TV. The advertiser won't spend money if there's no change of people watching his commercials.

  • Over a two year period I considered how commercials on TV affected my buying. During that two years, I spent $6.81 because of having seen commercials.

    Have you ever noticed that the things that are advertised on TV are usually things you should not buy, if you care about spending your money wisely?
  • We're all thieves in content providers' eyes. The best way to put that thought into motion is to strike at any technology, reguardless of it's non-infringing uses, and nail it to the cross and say "Look there's proof!"

    How is this different than those VCRs with a built in commercial-skipping feature? My guess is that the VCR is an analog medium. Kinda makes sense when you think about it.

    When you have content in perfect digital quality, it makes it hard to improve on perfect, and they know this. So what do the content owners do? That's right, slam any piece of technology that can: copy, reproduce, and store digital content of any kind.

    In their eyes we're stealing from them because that's how TV Broadcasters make their money. They rent TV airtime space to advertisers and get a kickback which finances their operations. I can understand this. Suppose if everyone in the US for starters, all had PVR's and know how to use them? What then? How would they continue to exist? I definately can see that.

    Their needs to be a balance here. Why not revert back to the business model of: "you pay x amount for ad free tv" AND STICK TO THE DAMN MODEL. If they did that for cable when it first came out, this would not be an issue.

    Kinda funny to see how shit like that comes back back to bite them in the ass.

    A penny for my thoughts? Here's my two cents. I got ripped off!
  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:08AM (#3449128) Homepage
    If you pay for cable or satellite TV, then only a small proportion of the money goes to the company that produces the programmes. Most of it is sucked up by administrivia.

    Here in the UK, the "TV Licence" that so many USians seem to just not understand pays for something like 6 advert-free TV stations (two of which are on analogue UHF, all six only being carried on digital TV) and a couple of dozen advert-free radio stations. Now, there's a side effect to this - in heavily commercial radio and TV the programmes are just a vehicle for the adverts. In other words, any programming is just there to fill the 10 minutes between ad breaks. Remove the need to be commercially competitive, and the quality of the programmes goes up - the incentive is to make something that people want to listen to.

    £130 well spent, I think...
    • Remove the need to be commercially competitive, and the quality of the programmes goes up - the incentive is to make something that people want to listen to.
      Let me make the american free market counter-argument. American programming is of higher quality because it is ad-supported. You are correct that the progamming can be considered filler between the advertisements but that filler must be of high quality for people to watch it and therefore for advertisements to pay for the programming. If a show is bad, people don't watch, advertisers don't pay for ads on unwatched shows so the show goes away. If a show is good, more people watch it and advertisers pay more to have their ads shown during that program.

      With the TV license, the network already has their money, from the TV owners. The network won't get more money if they produce better shows and they won't get less money if they produce worse shows. Even if a TV owner only watches the network's competition, the private broadcasters, the network still gets its money. They only have to produce "good enough" programming across their whole line of channels to keep masses of people from getting rid of their "rabbit ears," dish, cable, or the TV entirely. Even those that do try to do without broadcast TV are harrassed by their own government who treats them as guilty before proven innocent of not paying the license.

      The real pro-license argument is it means the network is free from appeasing risk-adverse advertisers and from appealling to the lowest common denominator in its audience. Also the fact that shows do not have to be cut into little bits to fit between the ads allows for greater artistic freedom. The networks have more "pure" goals, they want to "enrich" the audience, not themselves.

      PBS is a dilluted form of this. PBS relies on tax money and contributions individual viewers. However the programs also have "sponsors" who are sometimes non-profit organizations but are usually for-profit corporations and they get to show an "ad-like" spot before the program. I remember the sponsor spots being fairly dry, read by PBS announcers with fairly ordinary text shown on screen. It made the argument that show sponsors were not doing it for the TV time plausible. Today the spots are virtually indistinguishable from advertisements on other channels so it's hard to believe the TV time isn't a major motivation for the sponsors.

  • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:16AM (#3449156)
    .. he does have a point, in that commercial TV is supported by.. surprise surprise, commercials!! Commercial advertisers pay money to networks with the expectation that people will see the commercials. If that doesn't happen then the advertisers don't get a return on their money. The advertisers aren't paying for a commercial to simply run, they're paying for a commercial to be run and for people to see it. That's why networks charge more for a timeslot during the Superbowl or during popular programs. Sure, they know not everyone watching a program will see the commercial, but they can be sure a good percentage will. For a device to come around that makes this truly common.. now that's when it becomes dangerous enough to be attacked. The RIAA never cared enough about a few people swapping .wav files or .mp3's over irc... but Napster, Napster became a threat. Advertisers put up with VCRs, because even with those you're still getting a fair amount of the commercial. But a device where you don't even know what commercial aired? The commercial that is paying for the program? It should be no surprise advertisers aren't thrilled about that. And if these devices become popular? Should be no surprise again that they go on the attack. Network TV isn't commercial free, it's not supposed to be. Comments about whether or not this would be a good thing aside, the networks and channels like Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi, Food channel, History Channel.. none of these would survive without people actually watching the commercials that run. Or does everyone look forward to every channel running PBS-like pledge drives?

    This is the same argument that comes up when people complain about banner ads in websites. Commercial TV needs either advertising, or else they have to become a pay channel like HBO. Slashdot needs to run advertisements to survive or just become a pay site. So does Salon.

    All of them are supported by advertising, advertising which requires viewers for it to work. Saying that PVR users are thieves is... a little extreme, and somewhat silly, but to strip commercials completely out of programs is being a little dishonest.
    • Well, boo hoo!!!

      If adverts no longer work then stop using them. There is plenty of scope for product placement in TV and of course, they could just cut wages. Besides, big media makes too much money already, I fail to see how profits falling from astronomical to simply extravagent will stop people making TV.

      Here in the UK actors are paid a fraction of what the major US stars earn. Often they earn in a year what a similar US star will take home every episode. At least then they can stay a bit truer to their roots.

      Of course we also have 6 TV channels, and many radio stations with no adverts paid for by the TV licence fee, which is currently a little over £9 per household per month.
      Best thing is 24 currently being shown on BBC2. Each show is supposed to show the passing of one hour of the day yeah? But each show is only 45 minutes long because we have no adverts. Ha Ha! we get 33% more drama for our money.
    • by johnw ( 3725 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @07:31AM (#3449479)
      There seems to be a growing misconception that, because a business model has worked in the past it therefore must be entitled to legal protection in order to ensure it continues to work in the future.

      Consider the position of being, say, a musician a few hundred years ago. You could make a living (probably not a very good one) by composing and playing music for other people but, much like a plumber today you couldn't apply any multipliers to that. You play music for one evening - you get paid (or fed or something) a corresponding amount. If you want to be paid again tomorrow, make sure you have another gig lined up. The only way of avoiding that would be to find a rich sponsor.

      Along came printing - suddenly there was a way for musicians (and others) to get the multiplication factor in. Write a piece of music and then *sell* it. You only have to write it once but you can sell it lots of times.

      Along came audio recording - an even bigger multiplier. Now you don't even have to play it for each listener. Play it once (all right - I know - several times), record it, then sell it lots of times. You're not guaranteed to make lots of money that way but the potential is there and it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do (and it's perfectly reasonable to insist that others comply by the restrictions you choose to put on your material when you sell it - copyright).

      What is *not* reasonable is then to expect legislation simply to preserve your business model from other perfectly legitimate business models. If you're producing and selling recorded music you have absolutely no right to insist that others can't distribute *their* music in a different way, even if it blows your business model right out of the water.

      Similarly with the question of commercial TV channels. 100 years ago there were no commercial TV channels (bliss!). A particular combination of available technologies made them feasible (TVs available at prices consumers can afford; cameras and broadcasting kit available at prices consumers definitely can't afford; limited broadcast bandwidth available etc.) Now the technology position is moving on. Lots of new equipment is available and people may not be willing to make the same trade-off as before ("I'll watch your irritating adverts because I want to watch the program in the gaps"), particularly as the quality of both programs and adverts goes through the floor. Perhaps an entirely new business model will have to arise but there is absolutely no possible justification for legislation to protect an existing business model just because its window of opportunity is closing.
  • by nettdata ( 88196 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:24AM (#3449185) Homepage
    Let's face it, we're becoming over-saturated with marketing, and I think it's losing its effectiveness.

    The companies that are placing ads on TV (which seem to take up 50% or more of any show's air time these days) are probably seeing a shitty return on their investment.

    As a result, the ad companies are probably complaining that there aren't the same levels of profits, etc., and are complaining to the network execs. Those execs are probably in denial and are looking for a reason that would explain the drop in marketing response, and have become somewhat fixated on PVRs as their scapegoat. After all, it CAN'T be due to the quality of the programming or advertising, could it?

    It amazes me that they put such incrediblely shitty programming on TV and yet expect the same returns as with quality programming. Look at adcritic and ifilms to see how quality stuff is entertaining and effective.

    Oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention that my PVR is the ONLY reason why I don't ever watch the commercials on TNN... yeah, that's it... it's got nothing to do with the fact thay they have shitty programming and I don't watch ANYTHING on TNN, never mind the commercials.
  • by phaze3000 ( 204500 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:30AM (#3449200) Homepage
    It's called the BBC [bbc.co.uk]. You pay a flat fee, and you get to watch quality TV programs (and shitty TV programs too if you so desire) without any adverts!

    Ted Turner has a good point, adverts as an advertising medium haev passed their sell-by date. What a shame his company will go out of business because he'd rather bitch about it than get a new revenue model.

  • by briaman ( 564586 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:33AM (#3449211)
    If this argument applies to broadcasted content - that not watching the adverts constitutes theft - then the same argument must by extension apply to other mediums. Thus buying a newspaper and not reading all of the adverts contained therein also constitutes theft. I hope you have large prisons in America.
  • Tivo by law (Score:5, Funny)

    by nexex ( 256614 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @05:34AM (#3449214) Homepage
    Actually, what Ted doesn't realize is that I use my Tivo so I don't miss any commercials. When I leave the room to get a snack that I saw advertised in the previouse commercial break, I can pause the signal so I don't miss any valuable and high quality advertisements for useful goods and services! Its the people WITHOUT PVRs that are really costing them money.
    So, basically I think the networks should make it mandatory that everyone have a Tivo and buy them for everyone. Of course, those of us that already have them would get a credit for a big hard drive.
  • In Summation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blankmange ( 571591 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @08:03AM (#3449576)
    This guy is an idiot -- there is no contract with the network when I watch TV, there is certainly no contract to contend with when I skip the addled advertising (is it just me or is it just noise?), and there is certainly no contract dispute when I turn the damn thing off.

    In summation, an idiot...

  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @08:37AM (#3449728) Journal
    We're seeing an increase of law abiding citizens being treated like criminals in so many parts of our society. Every day we are being combarded with copy protection technology, security screenings, identifications, background and credit checks, etc. I really wonder if someday someone is going to do a study and find that the psychological effects of going through most of life not being trusted is causing all sorts of issues, like incrased stress, depression, family problems, etc... At the very least, one has to wonder if being treated like a criminal would start to make someone act like a criminial.

  • Let's see... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @08:51AM (#3449816) Homepage

    If I go out of my way actively to avoid an advert, what exactly are the chances that I would buy the product if I'd watched it? Quantify your answer, please.

    Advertising is a crock, an utter crock. Advertising is something you spend between X and Y% of your budget on, because that's what market analysts expect, and if you do something unusual, you're high risk. The only people who pretend to believe that it actually does anything are advertising executives and the people carrying the adverts. Note: "pretend".

    Oh, sorry, let's also include in that delusional group "e-advertisers". Because god knows that click-through adverts have really being pulling in the revenue, right?

    Once again for luck: overt advertising doesn't work! Actually, even advertisers know this, which is why they are so keen on product placement (place the product with the content, or place the content (e.g. of Britney's brassiere) with the product) rather than trying to actually sell the product on merits.

    I'm quite happy for the delusions to continue though: I mean, it's paying for this great free ride that we're all enjoying right now. But for anyone in the industry to actually claim that it matters that we watch commercials is crackpot delusion, pure and simple.

    • by ragnar ( 3268 )
      What you say assumes that the only function of advertising is to make a direct sale, when in fact it is more often to gain mindshare. The public quickly forgets about a product and advertising is used to keep it in the forefront of people's minds. This is why McDonald's still advertises, even though everyone knows who they are and what they do. (as an aside, McDonald's is really in the real estate business, but that isn't pertinent to my point)

      Advertising actually does work, but not in a reliable way. A common marketing mantra is "I know half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don't know why half." Consequently, they try all sorts of thing, akin to throwing mud on the wall and seeing what sticks. Everybody knows it is a crap shoot and the advertisers and media who sells advertising aren't as naive as you make it out to be.

      The fact is that there is some return on investment for advertising or else they wouldn't do it. It may be the case that advertising doesn't work too well on you, but they have already factored in this loss.
  • Likewise... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @08:56AM (#3449841) Homepage Journal
    Listening to NPR or watching PBS without becoming a member must also be theft. Only difference, really, is that NPR and PBS actually have content worth partaking of. I can't wait for the day you park your kids in front of Sesame Street and the SWAT team breaks down your door and demands to see your PBS membership card. And if you can't produce it, they cart you off to jail for theft and put your kids in a foster home.

    A lot of new TVs have picture in picture now, which makes channel surfing a breeze. I guess all those companies are just aiding and abetting. I'd love to see the end result of all this being that all remote controls become illegal in the USA. At least that's something that Joe Sixpack can really get up in arms about. "You can take away mah freedom, but you nae can take away mah remote!"

    I'm sure it won't take Turner and his slimy little friends long to come up with an even more obnoxious advertising method than the one he currently employs.

  • From the article:

    CW: Have you had any pressure from advertisers?
    JK: Our business is so much better this year than it was last year--it's remarkable. Rates are higher.

    Doesn't this pretty much nullify and credibility in the whining about how people who skip through ads are hurting the industry? What's very annoying is that they don't "get it": when I'm fast forwarding through the ads, either on the VCR or PVR, I'm scanning to know when to let go of the FF button. I'm paying MORE attention to the ad (albeit in time-compressed space) than I probably would be in real-time.

    For example:

    "Ad, ugh, where's the remote, , car ad, tampon ad, Miss Cleo, whoa what's that? check out ad, back to fast forward, grow more hair ad, lose unwanted hair ad, Miss Cleo, dog food ad, ad that made no sense and I doubt I'd do better in real-time, Jordan's Furniture ad - stop hafta watch, FF again, car ad, stop for Dean's Home Furniture ad? I doubt it!, Miss Cleo, back to program...

    There's probably MORE brand name recognition among VCR/PVR users than the people who have to suffer through real-time ads. If I were in advertising, I'd definitely do a study on this - actually I'd exploit it by making an ad that looks great while fast-forwarded (or one that mimics it in real-time - you'd get 60 seconds of content in 30 seconds!)

  • by 4444444 ( 444444 ) <4444444444444444 ... 444444@lenny.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @09:38AM (#3450094) Homepage
    I signed a contract with a cable company where I pay them for cable access to tv shows I don't remember paying for comercials
  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @09:40AM (#3450103) Homepage
    There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years , the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped ,or turned back, for their private benefit.

    Source: The Judge in Life-Line
  • It doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rnd() ( 118781 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:13AM (#3450334) Homepage
    The networks are going to lose to HBO anyway... HBO is great television, and I gladly pay $4.99 a month for it in digital quality.

    Below is an excerpt from an article in The Economist about television:

    So how is it that commercial American TV can come up with such funny, clever output? The first explanation is HBO. "Sex and the City", "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" are all made by this cable channel, part of AOL Time Warner. "HBO's achievements have had a dramatic impact on the entire media culture; creatively, it's put its rivals to shame," comments Peter Bart, editor of Variety, a Hollywood industry newspaper. HBO owes its achievements to a potent mix: stable management under Jeff Bewkes, who has held one or other of the two top jobs for the past 11 years; savvy, blanket promotion of its shows; and a business model that relies entirely on subscriptions rather than advertising. Curiously, a channel that did not originally chase ratings, because it did not need to, has ended up grabbing them anyway: on Sunday evenings during the summer, "Sex and the City" often beats other network shows. All this enables HBO to take creative risks, which itself draws talent to it. Alan Ball, who writes "Six Feet Under", had previously won an Oscar for the screenplay for "American Beauty", a successful movie. Writers love working there. "On most network TV, once you have a successful formula, you have to stick to it for ten years," says Michael Patrick King, creator of "Sex and the City". "With HBO, we have complete liberty to take the story wherever we want."

    The full text of the article is here [economist.com]

  • by mikemulvaney ( 24879 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:28AM (#3450423)
    It seems like someone else was complaining that blocking ads was stealing services(this was around 15:34):
    <hemos> Here's the reality:
    You block ads.
    You cost us money.
    Ultimately, I mean.
    • Good point but there is a slight difference.
      Slashdot is using resources in their end to support you when you access their site. That is not the case for Turner. There is no delta cost imposed on Turner by your behaviour.
    • And Slashdot had a solution [slashdot.org] to the problem. Turner has three choices:
      1. Accept it and lose money
      2. Be smart, like Slashdot, PBS, etc.
      3. Purchase legislation against technology
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:31AM (#3450448)
    its seem that in the US, if you do something 'I' don't want you to do, and I'm in a position of power (and lets say I got there first) then you're 'breaking the law' and are a criminal.

    when will the insanity end? arresting whole populations, doesn't, uhm, scale well.

    in this particular case, there was NEVER a contract. show me my signature, please. therefore no wrongdoing is ocurring. the stations put on 'free' broadcasting and they really thought thay had us nailed. we now have a workaround and their pissed. well, maybe its time to find a better business model! remember the story about the buggy whips and how, when cars became popular, the BW companies had to find a new business? same thing here. no one is willing to watch commercials (given a choice) and you can either legislate/force people to watch the stupid things or - well - update your business to modern times.

    personally, I'd be very happy to see all commercials go the way of the buggy whips. if you want to watch tv, pay for it (eg, cable, satellite). but of course, once we pay for it, let us record and watch the way WE want to.

  • Come on people. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:41AM (#3450542)
    Don't get so riled up. IT's PR spin, nothing else.

    Ranting about it here is preaching to the converted.

    They know it's not illegal. They just want it to be, and if big important people get up in the big media and start saying it is, believe it or not, lots of Americans start to believe it too... which curbs the behavior, which is what they want.

  • by amigabill ( 146897 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:55AM (#3450681)
    Well, I've been stealing TV shows for the vast majority of my lifetime then, taking bathroom breaks, refilling my drink, grabbing a snack, taking dirty dishes to the kitchen, cheking my email, or whatever else I feel during breaks in the show. I suppose I'm also stealing when I fast-forward through commercials if I've taped a show I wasn't home for.

    Besides, a lot of commercials are really annoying, and sometimes outright insulting to me. And these commercials only end up making me boycott the product/service/company involved, so not seeing commercials in my case should usually be good for the marketing guys, and hte networks should be happy that I am not boycotting advertizers' stuff due to watching my favorite TV show on that channel.

Information is the inverse of entropy.