[opendtv] Re: Is 'Fair Use' in Peril?

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "OpenDTV (E-mail)" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 17:41:55 -0500

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> We've been through this before. TV has NEVER been free.
> The price we pay for "free TV" is embedded in the cost
> of the products that are advertised.
> So the real issue here is not whether we may be force
> to pay more out of pocket - which at least 85% of us
> are already doing - but whether we must pay twice to
> watch programming that is filled with commercials.

But this is not "the real issue."

First off, advertising causes products to be sold in
greater quantity. Therefore, one can easily argue, the
price of each unit (e.g. tube of toothpaste) can be
lower than it would be if ads were not available. So
that's from the advertized product point of view.

From the TV service provider point of view, ad revenues
help pay some of their bills.

> I am growing very tired of paying ~$45/month for a
> bunch of broadcast and cable channels that are all
> filled with ads.

There are two simple responses:

1. Just say no.

2. If you made those ads useless or less useful, by
allowing ads to be skipped by all the PVRs that might
be installed, are you prepared to pay upwards of $90
per month for the *same* service?

That's the "real issue." That ad revenue would have
to be replaced by something else if you made ads
less productive.

> The real issue is not the ads, but their relevance
> to the viewer. Shot-gun advertising rarely hits real
> targets.

This is another topic, a tangent. More advanced ad
targeting is fine, as long as ads aren't zapped.
With DTV, this is possible, and we have already
discussed options recently, including for DTT.

But this is a separate discussion. What we were
referring to was this notion that the (supposedly)
ubiquitous PVR of the future would allow ads to
be completely bypassed. And that Congress is
considering legislation to prevent this.

> This is in essence what they do now. The only
> enhancement to this with Tivo is that you can press a
> button that fast forwards in 30 second increments. I
> do not know of any PVR that automatically skips
> commercials, but it is possible that someone has done
> this.

Yes, complete skipping was available in some TiVos. In
my case, I can skip 4 minutes at once, but fast forward
is only 4X by default. It can be sped up, but only by
hunting *each time* through a setup menu. Not worth it.

So I have to rely on ad skipping, even though a good FF
function would work very well too. For instance, a VCR
I used previosuly provided two FF speeds. Push FF once,
you got about 4X. Push FF again, you got something like
16X. That was excellent.

And again, unlike VCRs, digital recording devices
provide a series of still frames in FF, which is very
good to get the gist of the ad going by.

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