The Tivo Fast-Forward Non-Story 1

According to Matt Haughey’s PVRblog, Tivo is updating its software to display advertisements while you fast-forward through programs. That’s right, you’ll see ads even while you fast-forward to skip the ads. People seem to think this is an abomination.

What’s the big deal? Television has ads. There’s nothing evil in that; it’s just a business model. If you don’t like ads, you can sit and watch your home movies on your TV. You have no God-given right to see Desperate Housewives minus the commercials. Nor do you have a God-given right to see a sped-up program while you’re fast-forwarding. With Tivo, you can see the programs you want, when you want, and pause/rewind/fast-forward them whenever you want. None of that is changing.

Yes, content owners are going off the deep end in trying to enforce expansive intellectual property proections. Yes, I’m worried about copy protection technologies overwhelming the public domain. Yes, things like DVDs that prevent you from fast-forwarding past previews and media company executives talking about skipping commercials as “stealing” annoy me. Yes, I would rather have a Tivo that gave me fewer commercials rather than more. None of those are what’s happening here.

Tivo is doing the same thing all those building in Manhattan have been doing by adding billboards on what used to be blank walls — finding new spaces to advertise as the old ones become less effective. I don’t love the advertising saturation in our society today, but that’s a very different problem from the way some companies want to limit my freedom to create and innovate.