First, they did a 180 on the broadcast flag – supporting it on the Hill after opposing it vigorously at the FCC. Now, Philips Electronics is seeking to hurt its own customers again, and frankly, I had to read the story twice before I believed it. Philips is seeking to patent a technology that would prevent viewers from switching the channel during commercials or fast-forward past commercials when watching TiVo content. The only way viewers could get out of this limbo would be to pay a fee to the broadcaster.
SAY WHAT?!!! Is the era of “TV when, where and how you want it” already over? Is Philips trying to self-destruct? Oh, no, according to the company, they just want to create a new business model for the advertising loving public. Here is their official statement:
“Inventors from Royal Philips Electronics (Philips) filed a patent application, as yet not granted, that enables watching a television movie without advertising. However, some people do want to see the ads. So, 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. It is up to the viewer to take this decision, and up to the broadcaster to offer the various services.
Philips never had the intention to force viewers to watch ads against their will and does not use this technology in any current Philips products, nor do we have any plans to do so.”
Don't people who want to watch ads already have the option to do so? They just keep the remote by their side, don't take a bathroom break, don't fast forward their TiVo. And while Philips may not intend to force viewers to watch ads against their will, you can best believe that broadcasters and their pals in Hollywood (one in the same in many cases) will be knocking on the doors of every CE and computer company in town, insisting that they use this technology or else. This is how their thinking goes: let's give the consumer what she has already said she does not want in order to preserve the 50-year old 30-second spot business model. I suppose that is easier than trying to harness the enormous capability of digital technology to satisfy advertisers.
And if pressure doesn't work, maybe a good old government required tech mandate might do. Broadcast Flag II anyone?