back to article Judge drops TV ad-block block: So how will anyone pay for TV now?

The US ruling that automatically stripping out the ads doesn't cause TV broadcasters irreparable harm might be legally accurate, but logistically it's nonsense and a decision we might all live to regret. Fox will appeal against the dismissal of its request for an injunction against Dish Networks, but it looks likely the TV …


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  1. johnnymotel

    Scrolling ads

    If they start doing this during my favourite film I will chuck out the TV.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Scrolling ads

      It's bad enough when, after the poignant ending of a film, some twerp starts jabbering over the credits to announce what's on next.

      That, and and the variable frequency of advertisements... the first 40 minutes of the film goes by uninterrupted, but towards the climax of the film there is an advertisement break every ten minutes.

      Ah well, the BBC and DVD boxsets cover most of my televisual wants... Channel 4 used to make some gems, but since they not only dropped The Daily Show - but prevented Comedy from screening full episodes - then screw 'em with extreme prejudice. Oh, and they cut the more risqué jokes from The Simpsons, even when it messes with the continuity.

      /end mini rant

      On a slightly off but parallel topic - I recently watched the Armando Iannucci Bafta lecture on Youtube, about how US networks have put some brilliant shows in the last decade (when once the US put out 'glittery shit'), and how Britain's commissioning editors have lost their way. Recommended.

    2. cortland

      Re: Scrolling ads

      -- It's far easier just to scroll the ads across the bottom of the screen during the show, something already common around the world and creeping into UK television too (currently restricted to advertising other shows, but give it time...) --

      This'll fix it.

      1. This Side Up

        Re: Scrolling ads

        Adjust the picture height so that the ticker disappears.

  2. MrXavia

    WTF is wrong with PAYING for content?? You know, subscriptions?

    That is why I don't pay for sky, I don't like getting adverts if I already pay...

    That is why I like the BBC, I pay my fee I get my TV with NO adverts...

    If Sky were to stop with adverts in their shows then I would happily pay £20/month for the priviledge, otherwise the channels should be on Freesat...

    IF they start sticking adverts all over them, I will turn to other means of watching the shows I like..

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      The problem is you'd have to pay more than the current Sky subs for it to work and we don't know much more than would be. Personally I'd be prepared to pay a bit extra to skip adverts myself but just having a jump forward function would really be enough. My FreeSat PVR has that and it's much better than Sky's traditional 'go faster'. Especially since Sky's go faster plays back like a drunken bum :-/

      1. Chet Mannly

        "The problem is you'd have to pay more than the current Sky subs for it to work"

        Actually you'd pay a similar amount but get less channels.

        90% of channels on pay tv in Aus are utter garbage, but they are bundled with channels you actually want to watch.

      2. tfewster

        The cost

        £4.6bn in annual TV advertising revenue / 25 million households = £184 per household p.a.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The cost

          And that's what you pay, irrespective of whether there's even a TV in the house.

          Licence fee may be somewhat inequitable, but advert funded TV is a complete scam.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The cost

            advert funded TV is a complete scam

            I can accept that you might not like it, but how is it a "scam"? It seems to me to deliver precise what it promises: television programming with advertising. What fraud or deception is being perpetrated?

            Personally, while I rarely enjoy advertising, ad breaks don't bother me enough to try to avoid them. But then I very rarely watch television by myself (so I can socialize during program interruptions), and then only when I'm eating or otherwise occupied in a way that gives me something else to direct my attention to.

            Advertising crawlers, flies, banners, and the like inserted into programming, on the other hand, are the work of vile reprobates who should be banned from society. Or at least subjected to similar annoyances in other aspects of their lives, such as having loud noises interrupt their conversations.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I said:

              ....And that's what you pay, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THERE IS A TV IN THE HOUSE.

              At least with licence fee, only TV owners pay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Seems to me that for a "advert-free", paid-for network, the BBC spends a surprising amount of time advertising its own programmes...

      1. Psyx

        Re: BBC

        "Seems to me that for a "advert-free", paid-for network, the BBC spends a surprising amount of time advertising its own programmes..."

        Every channel does.

        BBC seem to spend less time than most, though.

      2. My Alter Ego

        Re: BBC

        They don't advertise their next program using an annoying overlay at the bottom of the screen, nor do they insert their adverts into the middle of programs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BBC

          God, I hate that. I think that producers should demand that their programs be broadcast 'the full height and width of the display with no overlays' or not at all.

          Of course, I stopped watching tv on a regular basis in 1993.

        2. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: BBC

          I'm wondering how much adverts contribute to channels on the Sky platform.

          It's possible that for Sky owned channels they are only boosting Sky's profits so with fewer channels it might still be able to operate. But the majority of channels on Sky's platform are not owned by Sky and I don't think any of them could operate without advertising revenue. As I understand it they get something back from Sky based on audience share but I've heard that it's a very small amount.

          Channels like Discovery can probably only exist due to advertising revenue now. Of course maybe we could move to every channel having its own subscription but I don't know if that would work for the less popular channels either. Advertising is vague enough to allow channels to get an inflated income because there's always the chance of a passing viewer. But force them to rely on subs and a lot of people will fade away.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: BBC

        "the BBC spends a surprising amount of time advertising its own programmes..."

        That's because BBC created programmes are few and far between, most are commissioned or bought in and those programmes were made with the commercial market in mind. Even the BBCs own programmes are made with ad breaks in mind for the BBC World re-sale market. Just watch a BBC in-house created documentary. It's about 50mins long but every 10-15 mins there is a "re-cap" and a "coming next" segment.

    3. madferret

      Funny that. Sky have adopted exactly the same procedure as Dish networks for their downloadable on demand content. So if I didn't watch a programme at first broadcast I can wait 24 hours and watch a Sky programme with the ads stripped out. Or just fast forward on Sky+, it's about as difficult as spelling privilege correctly.

    4. This Side Up

      NO adverts???

      They're just spending ten million pounds on advertising DAB!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A marketing droid just gave you a thumb down for talking about Pay TV not having ANY ads.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >If Sky were to stop with adverts in their shows then I would happily pay £20/month for the priviledge

      They strip them out of Anytime which covers all the massive shows - if you really need to watch stuff go out live, then generally you hit pause and make a cup of tea or something. I haven't watched TV adverts for years - can't imagine why anyone who has Sky+ or equivalent would.

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Whoa, wait a bit!

    That Dish did not "strip out" any ads, it just provided a consumer-friendly function to skip them if they so want.

    Quite frankly I find those ruminations about the poor industry, us living to regret this decision and so on, remarkably unconvincing.

    You know what? If it's the death of the industry or me not being able to skip the ads the industry may lay down right now and die - I won't shed a single tear.

    However, judging by the amounts of money they stuff their executive's pockets with and spend on lawyers and lavish bribes to politicians that industry has never had it so good. I would actually be very pleased if it would die right this minute. Tell me where should I push for them to fall over?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Whoa, wait a bit!

      BAFTA Television Lecture 2012 - Armando Iannucci takes an optimistic view: since commissioning editors have dropped the ball, the way in which people now consume content has the potential to benefit the creative content creators. For example, over the internet, you don't have to make 25 minute episodes and instead can make each episode as long as it needs to be , a la Fawlty Towers.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Whoa, wait a bit!

        Indeed, and that also allows them to be as *short* as they need to be as well, like the French "shortcom" format. This is usually at least semi-comedy, and is made in episodes of up to about ten minutes. The format itself has its roots in real broadcast TV and an anomaly in the French TV advertising rules - if the rules limit the number of ad slots you can put inside a single programme, let's just commission a 3-5 minute sketch-format comedy series (e.g. Kamelott) so we can have an extra between-programmes ad slot in that hour. With the rise of the Web as a video broadcast medium, the viewers' acceptance of this format leaves the door open to independent producers making stuff and showing it on the Web, then migrating it to TV if it gets enough hits (e.g. Le Visiteur du Futur, NOOB, Flander's Company).

        And speaking of Fawlty Towers, I remember well, if with some trepidation, a marathon on Boston (Massachusetts, not Lincolnshire)'s PBS station WGBH during Begging Week, where they got hold of the whole set of Fawlty Towers and showed it back-to-back (OK, with begging slots in between, but you get the idea, right?). It's one of those experiences, much like having a root canal done, where you say to yourself afterwards, "Well, it's interesting to have done that, but I'm going to try hard not to do it again."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whoa, wait a bit!

          "And speaking of Fawlty Towers, I remember well, if with some trepidation, a marathon on Boston (Massachusetts, not Lincolnshire)'s PBS station WGBH during Begging Week, where they got hold of the whole set of Fawlty Towers and showed it back-to-back (OK, with begging slots in between, but you get the idea, right?)."

          Well, that PBS station clearly needs to optimize its fund-raising ... when I was in "silicon valley" one of the local PBS stations seemed to have the habit of break off from a show mid-way through and cut to the fundraising host saying something like "I'm sure you're all desperate to see the rest of this show ... once we reach this hour's target of $5000 of support then we'll be straight back to it so phone in with your pledges now"

  4. Ian K

    "'s hard to push 20th-century products into [..] (god forbid) Lexx"

    Not that hard; the final series was set on 20th-century Earth.

    I'll get my browncoat.

  5. easytoby

    Squeezing the last drops

    This feels like the Dinosaur incumbent squeezing the last drops out of an outdated business model. I think they need to see the writing on the wall, and accept that the current way of doing business does not have much longer to run.

    The future has to be the customer paying for content to be delivered at their own convenience. The BBC iPlayer is, I think, the best current example of this. However, Netflix, Amazon and even IMDb feel like they are circling like vultures over the carcasses of the old media executives.

    Perhaps when the fat cats have taken their comfortable retirement packages and retired to the coast the inevitable truth will become clear that change is not in the hands of the traditional controlling centre, but will be driven by the consumer ourselves.

    1. Panzerbjorn

      Re: Squeezing the last drops

      This is to a large extent true, but for this to work, the content needs to be available legally at least as fast as the downloadable shows.

      I could give you examples, but I think The Oatmeal does it best:

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Squeezing the last drops

        Yes, that Oatmeal comic is a good one. Like Mr Ray, I refuse to download illegally on principle,[1] but I did enjoy Mr Inman's tale of GoT-related woe.

        I couldn't help but wonder, though, if the folks at HBO had decided to accept a degree of GoT piracy in delaying its authorized release in other media, on the theory that they'd make up for whatever profits they were foregoing in lost sales by letting the popularity of the series drive new subscriptions. Subscriptions are so much more profitable for them (they're pretty much pure profit, since the product has no marginal cost, once the infrastructure is built out; and they require positive action by the consumer to stop them from renewing automatically) that each addition to the subscriber base must be equivalent to a large number of foregone iTunes sales, for example.

        Similarly, not making GoT available for immediate download or online viewing might eventually increase DVD sales - though that seems very hard to confirm or refute, making it rather a gamble.

        And, as the Oatmeal comic suggests, GoT and other popular series could increase demand for HBO Go, which is subsidized by the cable provider and so represents another additional revenue stream for HBO.

        So in this case, turning a blind eye to illegal GoT downloads, rather than trying to undercut them with legal sources, might be the optimal strategy for HBO. But I think it's an outlier, and for most programming I agree that providing legal alternatives is the more profitable approach.

        [1] Primarily on the principle that I enjoy feeling morally superior, even - or especially - in matters of little consequence. I live an existence rich in smugness.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "we might even miss it when it's gone."

    Not as much as the networks will miss their viewers when TV finally becomes unwatchable. It's not far off.

    1. Psyx

      "Not as much as the networks will miss their viewers when TV finally becomes unwatchable. It's not far off."

      TV in the States was unwatchable ten years ago, due to the number of breaks. I dread to think how bad it's got now!

      1. OrsonX

        TV in the States

        not only is it unwatchabe..., but it's unwatchable in 480i

  7. Gavin McMenemy

    Maybe I would have more sympathy if commercial content hadn't moved in the direction of less content and more advert breaks or if there was a minimum quality level for adverts (I think some adverts are actually really interesting or amusing to watch).

  8. Crisp

    I could see Microsoft making a bundle from this.

    Rather than use their new technology patent to enforce content licensing, they could use it to make sure that there are people in front of the TV watching the adverts.

    Of course, if I ever find myself living in such a dystopian future I'd probably never watch anything on TV ever again.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. James 51

    Will we finally find out what kind of hair products Kai used to keep that thing on top of his head in place?

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Could herald TV's renaissance

    > but logistically it's nonsense and a decision we might all live to regret.

    It could also be the best thing to happen to TV since sliced bread advertisements.

    Instead of having to write shows in 10 minute chunks, to be ad-break friendly, writers would have the freedom to produce, long, flowing scenes and to break the "action" into logical, rather than times, sections. It would allow programmes to break from from the staid, formulaic formats they presently have and to produce new, innovative patterns (providing the current, awful, level of TV writing can be kicked up a notch or ten). And it would allow a full 60 minues of programming per hour - as opposed to the current standard of 12 or 18 minutes of advertisements, that is de rigeur - and give the BBC a serious pause for thought.

    Better yet, by requiring a better way of financing programmes, we might find that a true PAYG or subscription model comes into being. Where people only have to pay for the programmes they choose to watch, and continue watching. Rather than the hit and miss "half of everything we spend on advertising is wasted - but nobody knows which half" model we have at present - that just annoys and gives the audience a reason to switch channel.

    Finally (and here's the controversial bit), by doing away with a large source of advertising, the average couch potato might not feel so pressured, or manipulated, into buying all the unnecessary garbage we currently get cajoled into thinking we must have, RIGHT NOW. Since most of the stuff we buy is imported, it'll have little affect on our industrial output (what's left of it), but could do wonders for our personal wealth. You never know, people might even start saving again.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Could herald TV's renaissance

      Many networks don't give a shit about the indicated advert points and just run adverts cutting automatically into whatever happens to be on screen at the time. Not only is this exceedingly annoying and tend to ruin whatever is being shown, it's even more frustrating when 20s after the advert break a pre-set advert break transition comes in (i.e. scene change with pause - many shows have them).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ".....automated eradication is the Shangri-La of the freetard viewer."

    Rubbish! Sorry but we've watched TV for free since its inception (excl the licence fee). To make comment that we are all freetards now is ridiculous.

    Mind you, I am reading El Reg! Most of the comments and stories made by the Reg hacks could only be considered as complete TOSH. (Just look at how many "apple is cool" stories they bleat out)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I also took exception to the fact that I, a licence paying and VM subscriber am now apparently a 'freetard viewer' just because I do everything in my power to skip/delete/avoid adverts. If that be the case then long live the freetard viewer.

      Automated eradication in the shangri-la of the VIEWER - full stop.

      If automatically removing ads by an online service became illegal, then what would be next? Automatic removal at home on your PVR? Manual removal at home/skipping ads? Automatically removing ads on web-TV/video streaming sites (including proxy filters)? Removing ads on any web site that has media? Removing ads on any web site as 'text' is now considered media? Disabling plugins? Disabling javascript? - where would the law stop in order to FORCE us to see the adverts.

      I am pleased this has been thrown out and stopped early.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Reg hacks... "apple is cool" stories they bleat out"

      New here, are you?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The more I see the word Freetard mentioned the worse inpression I get from the author who prints these stories.

  12. NomNomNom

    I hope TV just dies and they turn off the transmitters.

    Only need the internet. TV is BS.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      *you* only need the internet.

      Others might prefer a different method of watching it.

      1. Panzerbjorn

        Re: *you* only need the internet.

        Connect virtually any modern viewer to your TV (PC/PS3/Whatever) and you can watch TV using the internet. And you are still watching it on a device called a television. Not really much difference...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: *you* only need the internet.

          Hardly a television when it's legally called a 'Monitor' it has no tuner boards inside it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and in the places where we are still restricted to dial-up with no hope ever of BB

      Still think it's a good idea do you?

      your gran got internet has she?

  13. Graham Marsden

    "in the expectation that...

    "...viewers will sit through the ads that pay for the programmes"

    ITYM "the ads that pay their over-inflated salaries and bonuses which they got for paying over-inflated prices for sports coverage..."


    Why do the idiots think that boosting the LOUDNESS on commercials is going to make someone *more* likely to buy a product? If you've been watching a quiet programme and then someone comes on SHOUTING at you to buy something, what are you going to do? Buy it? Or mute/ skip/ go and make a cup of tea until the idiot has gone away...?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: "in the expectation that...

      If it goes loud I just mute, normally FF through just to catch the rare better advert.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "in the expectation that...

        You mute them? How dare you mute them!

        Muting commercials could be the end of TV as we know it!


        1. Graham Marsden

          Re: "in the expectation that...

          "Muting commercials could be the end of TV as we know it!"

          To quote from an episode of Max Headroom:

          Janie Crane: "An off switch?"

          Metrocop: "She'll get years for that. Off switches are illegal!"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "in the expectation that...

          Ads should be seen but not heard, as for Tivo and Sky+ viewers, they hardly get seen either!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just crowdsource the removal of ad breaks. If you got a few thousand people who, for the same channel, start fastforwarding at X and stop again at Y (+/- a small error margin) then you can deduce the time between X and Y was an ad break, and allow everyone else using the system a one-button-skip. Or perhaps automatically skip that portion entirely, if they configure it to 'skip without bothering me'. Just requires a net connection and the infrastructure to anonymously upload which portions are skipped.

    Oh yeah, and I hereby release this idea into the public domain, so fuck you patent trolls if you try to patent this fucking obvious idea that took about 5 seconds of thought.

    1. Mattjimf

      Or they could just latch on to the markers the channels put on the programs to highlight an ad break to the regional stations (little black/black and white boxes in top corners just before a break). I realise this is probably only good for ITV/Channel 4/Channel 5 channels, but if the markers are already there, why not use them.


    Automatic skipping is hard? Not so much!

    "but it's technically challenging as machines have a hard time distinguishing between adverts and the shows. "

    VLC seems to be able to see the advert breaks in recording i make on my Freeview PVR. It doesn't actually skip, but it does show the file name at the end of advert breaks. It doesn't seem likely it would be hard to add 'autoskip'. Also there's something called Comskip that seems to offer automatic advert skipping.

    1. Badvok

      Re: Automatic skipping is hard? Not so much!

      "VLC seems to be able to see the advert breaks in recording i make on my Freeview PVR."

      Don't forget that US TV doesn't often use a marker/splash screen to indicate that ads are coming up or ending, their ad breaks appear as little more than a scene change.

  16. Desk Jockey


    I HATE adverts. I find them tripe and irritating and generating too much meaningless noise. I honestly could not care less for the welfare of that industry. I want to consume media when I want it, how I want it and free from 'distractions' and all for a fair price. The Iplayer is truly a game changer in this and I would actually be happy to pay a sub for this sort of service.

    The growth of the internet and the options it gives consumers has pretty much shaken the old business models to pieces. Adverts detract from the consumer experience, not enhance it and so it is no surprise people will want ways around it. People may talk about advertising income as being critical to funding creative content, but this does not overcome the issue that adverts do not directly benefit consumers and in fact does a lot of harm on many levels.

    It's a brave new world and all that.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Graham Marsden

    +1 - I can't believe that they actually think that people watch the adverts at broadcast time, let alone a day later. Same here with the loudness. I thought that was supposed to have been knocked on the head some time ago by some standards agency or other.

    To be honest, the only thing I actually watch on TV any more is Dr Who and the news. Everything else is on DVD from various places, whichever does it cheaper, because they cut the film to hell and back so that the adverts fit in.

    So, dear advertiser, dear network, because you're behaviour towards me, as a customer, has been so pathetic and condascending, I barely watch your stations any more. Also, as your flash adverts are bandwidth hungry and annoying, I use add blocking on my web as well. You're reaching me less today than you ever have been over the last few decades. Stop treating me like your personal piggy bank and I just might condascend to stop a moment and actually listen to your lies about your latest overpriced piece of garbage that won't live up to any of the promises you are making.

    On second thoughts ... perhaps not.

    1. This Side Up
      Thumb Down

      @Michelle Knight

      If someone interrupts the programme I'm watching and screams at me for 30 seconds he'll exclude his wretched product or service from any purchasing decisions I'm likely to make.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Michelle Knight

        That would be most places then.

  18. Magister

    15 million merits

    Anyone see the short series "Black Mirror"?

    The episode "15 million merits" showed a brief glimpse of what might be in store. If you have the credit, you can wave the adverts aside and just watch what you want. If you don't have the credit you have to watch the adverts; and even closing your eyes is detected and as a penalty, the advert break is doubled.

    I suspect that we may also start to see scrolling banners across the top / bottom or on the sides of the screen. Possibly a return to the "sponsorship" model of the past. E.g. Coronation Street sponsored by Gala Bingo etc. An increased amount of "product placement".

    Personally, I have very little interst in most of the programmes produced so could see me doing without a TV.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: 15 million merits

      Push too hard and we drop to one broadcaster.

      We accept adverts if they do not annoy, rare and well made.

      We do not accept them pushed over everything, remember advertisers killed internet advertising not the users.

      TV, Go loud - mute, go on too long - skip, do something eye catching - may watch it.

      Internet, popup - block, animate - block, noisy - block, irrelevant - block, sits there doing nothing at the top of the page and is relevant to the page you are on - might click on it. Relevant as it sitting there not annoying me, advertising something to do with the forum I am using, a lot of forums are funded like this and they do not annoy the users.

      1. Tom 35

        TV, Go loud - mute, go on too long - skip,

        You forgot one that I "love". Show the same ad more then once in an ad break, or more then twice in one program.

        I've seen them run the same ad twice every ad break for an hour, some times twice in a row.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    simple answer, really

    Instead of the unutterable drivel that makes up most ads. Just get the PR droids to simply make ads that are entertaining and watchable. There have been one or two examples but so very few.

    Admakers: You got yourselves into the hole by feeding us crap. Now work yourselves out of it and stop bloody whingeing.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: simple answer, really

      Like Hovis and Ridley Scott.

      Wallace & Gromit adverts.

      The old ITV Digital adverts

      All were well made, clever and entertaining.

    2. David Kelly 2

      Re: simple answer, really

      I agree. The only reason there is a demand for skipping ads is that the ads are not worth watching.

      Not uncommon for the same ad to show 4 times in 30 minutes. I've seen a 5 or 6 minute commercial break finish with the same ad it started with.

      And then there are the 5 or 6 minute ad breaks with 4 or 5 minutes of programming in between. I quit watching the SciFi Channel until I got a PVR. But I know when it takes 10 to 12 30-second skips that they still have very long commercial breaks.

      The lack of commercial skipping is what has kept ad-supported internet streaming from success.

  20. Eugene Crosser

    Just let us pay directly to the producers

    Because currently the distribution (networks etc.) manhandle the producers into "exclusivity", and as a result everyone (sans pirates) have all the unpleasantness of ad breaks, channels filled with crap, and geographical restrictions.

    Make exclusivity illegal.


    1. Badvok

      Re: Just let us pay directly to the producers

      So who's going to pay for the distribution?

      1. Crisp

        Re: Just let us pay directly to the producers

        Why would they need to pay for distribution? You can already torrent TV shows that you might have forgotten to record over the internet.

  21. theastrodragon

    Lost the plot

    The advertisers have, for quite a long time, completely lost the plot on advertising because they seem to live in their own little world, disconnected from actual viewers.

    The bulk of people probably dont mind a small amount of adverts per hour. They'd look at them. But what we get is nearly a third of our viewing time contaminated by adverts, many of which repeat during the same program, and are often spectacularly stupid or bad. And then they look at each other in confusion and wonder why we all want to marry out fast-forward button...

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Product placement by the ad industry in El Reg? Discussions about TV contents in 2012? The broadcaster's bleeding hearts unable to feed the starving artists of "CSI" and "Homeland" exposed? Really, now.

    "Author would never consider downloading a pirated copy of a film - as that would make him a freetard too."

    Also uncalled-for advertisement of good, religiously correct, IP credentials.

    Lighten up. Take a good pull on a bong, it won't kill you.

    After this message...

  23. Psyx

    "but automated eradication is the Shangri-La of the freetard viewer."

    As opposed to every viewer, how?

    It's absurd to try to tie the idea of no-adverts to 'freetards', especially when the author then loudly broadcasts his own penchant for avoiding them at the end of the article, while pointing out that he's not a 'freetard'.

    What should really happen is that Advertisers will smarten up, and pay a premium price for 5-second slots at the front and end of breaks when the viewer is reaching for the remote or has just punched 'jump back' and focus on making very short effective adverts. That and make adverts that are so intriguing even in fast forward that viewers' attention is grabbed, and they go back to watch them.

    Advertisers need to up their game, instead of relying on litigation to preserve a potentially dying market.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      "but automated eradication is the Shangri-La of the freetard viewer."

      As opposed to every viewer, how?

      I'm a viewer, and I don't give a rat's ass about "automated eradication". In fact, I think it's a bad idea, since advertising helps pay for some of the television I watch. I don't feel particularly strongly about it; but calling it my "Shangri-La" would be wildly incorrect.

      I know some Reg commentators have difficulty with the idea that not everyone shares their opinions. I hope this correction has helped.

  24. Rande Knight

    Targetted Advertising

    A lot of the rage against advertising is because they are trying to sell you stuff you don't care about.

    I'm surprised they don't look at your viewing stats/other info they have on you, and serve up ads from your Sky+ storage (also solving the localisation problem). And then let you vote on the ad once it's half way through running. Vote it down, and you'll never have to see that ad featuring blue liquid again, vote up and you'll get more cute puppies running around with toilet paper.

  25. Paul Webb

    Watching TV feels like...

    Alex's 'treatment' in A Clockwork Orange.

  26. Ian Watkinson

    Why not go with the Amazon model.

    Do you want your TV to cost £100 more, and show no adverts, or £100 less and show adverts?

    Sky for free with more adverts, Sky for £100 a month no adverts.

    I got fed up with paying sky and seeing adverts, so I don't have sky, or Virgin for that matter, I don't care about the freesat/freeview adverts, as I'm not paying to see them...

    1. This Side Up

      Amazon Model?

      If tv is stuffed full of adverts I won't watch it. If i had to pay £100 more on top of the licence fee I wouldn't watch it. Ads should be where I can find them when I want to buy something and need to know what's available.

  27. Steen

    I've stopped watching most telly because the adverts ruin immersion, they are loud, long, and too frequent. I cannot sit down and enjoy the experience any more.

    Imagine if you went to a theater and every 10-15 minutes everything stopped so someone can tell you, in a very exited voice, about some inane product. BAH! I'm finding other things to do instead.

  28. JimboSmith Silver badge

    30 second skip

    Bill you are aware that you can add a 30 second skip into your Series 1 Tivo aren't you.

  29. Jason Bloomberg

    Simply sublime

    TV ads getting in the way of the programme?

    You want longer programs and less ad breaks?

    You don't want scrolling banners or overt product placement?

    Manual skipping a pain in the backside?

    You don't want to pay to avoid seeing ads?

    What you need is our new patented subliminal advertising system. So good in fact that you won't even know you have seen the ads. Everyone's happy.

    It's (drink carlsberg) so (eat cornflakes) good (read el reg) I'm (linux sucks) surprised (buy apple) no (drive bmw) one (vote tory) has (love facebook) thought (have a wank) of (read kindle) it (every little helps) before.

  30. Killraven

    Freetard Viewer.....

    "but automated eradication is the Shangri-La of the freetard viewer."

    WTF??? That's a seriously retarded view on things.

    You're talking about television. Specifically, you're talking about satellite television, which the viewer has paid, quite handsomely, to watch. Perhaps you live in some lovely neo-conservative world where only "freetards" go get a snack, use the restroom, or hit mute in order to have a short conversation, during a commercial break?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We ( yes us El Reg Readers) are not the target of most TV ads

    Lets face it,

    most of us who read/post here are Male

    most of us who read/post here are 'geeks'

    We are not the target of the majority of TV adverts.

    That is those of the population that belong to social category 'C' and a bit of 'B' and of that part of the population, the target is mainly women.

    The ads show during the day is even worse. (once you get past all the lawyers, 'gold dealers' and payday loans, look at how many adverts there are for food and shampoo. Most men don't care what brand of shampoo they use as long as it get their hair (if they have any) clean.

    etc etc etc

    ~so get on with your life, carry on recording your progs on your PVR's and continue skipping very the adverts. This is the only way to keep reasonably sane.

  32. Thorfkin

    Vote with your Wallet

    I applaud the ruling. I'm of the opinion that the current state of television programming is vile and untenable. The way I see it, if I pay for television programming, then that programming better be 100% ad-free. I refuse to pay for programming that wastes as much as half of my time with useless repetitive twaddle. Since cable operators feel the need to charge for their service yet still shove endless amounts of advertizing in my face, as far as I'm concerned, their service is utter shite and not worth even $1. I vote with my wallet on this and so should you. If they insist on flooding your peaceful house with disruptive crap then the service needs to be completely free.

    I do understand the cable operator's perspective and business model. They charge for the service of bringing the available cable channels to your home but they don't actually do any of the programming itself. But that doesn't change the fact that cable is seriously expensive these days despite the fact that the programming is something like 99% ad supported. I buy every one of the shows I watch on blu-ray for less than half the cost of paying for cable for 6 months worth of time. Your average season of any particular show will run about $50 and that's for excellent quality, no commercials, and I can watch it on My schedule rather than trying to time shift it.

    I just don't see why cable companies are still in business. It doesn't make sense.

  33. Chris Hart

    For some reason, I am reminded of the movie Idiocity. When there was a TV show on screen, the GIGANTIC TV was split into about 9 subscreens, with the center one showing the program, all the others showing advertisements.

  34. MurrayH

    When people turn on a telly, they want information or entertainment. They don't want ads that fail to meet those criteria. Most ads don't. If all ads were Superbowl caliber, there wouldn't be an issue (most of those are at least entertaining). It is even worse if one considers political or issue adds that crop up frequently. No one wants to see those at all. We know they are not informative and not entertaining. This is all about fast, unearned money, instead of quality. Don't broadcast 24x7, and there will not be a problem.

  35. OrsonX

    I hate adverts.

    But only because I hate statements like:

    "contains natural water filtered through energised volcanic revitalising orgasmic rock"


    *59 of 61 people agreed that their hair was more naturally radiant after using proline-super-amino-concentrate-re-juvinatoring-up-lift-crem


  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everybody with any sense should skip adverts. Who gives a toss about them apart form advertisers, or cash mongerers?

  37. meehawl

    How Now, ReplayTV?

    How sad this came at least ten years too late for ReplayTV, Marc Andreessen's original big post-Netscape investment gamble. Unlike TiVo, ReplayTV went ahead like it just didn't care what the TV companies wanted... So once it added show sending via the (dodgy and slow but workable) 2000-era Internet and automatic ad-skipping, it was sued into oblivion, opening up the market in PVRs to Tivo and in mp3 players to Apple.

  38. shrdlu

    Mind Maps

    At an advertising industry conference in the late nineties I told some ITV executives about ad-skipping technology in video recorders. Someone else gave a talk about "Ad Avoiders." The words rabbit and headlights came to mind. I said that the 30-second spot was dying. It's still twitching though.

    Time for another prediction. The next step will be for broadcast TV to switch almost exclusively to pay-per-view. Lots of people will turn off so PPV prices will climb and audiences will drop further. Eventually the only new material being produced will be advertorials.

  39. Sirius Lee

    A solution would be to put better adverts on and not repeat, repeat, repeat the same one over and over again. If kids can create hours of humorous video for peanuts and upload it to, say, YouTube then surely the channels can do us all a service by insisting on the use by advertisers of entertaining and inexpensive ads that can be varied frequently.

    Wonga comes to mind as an exemplar of what overkill looks like. These are inexpensive adds that change regularly but their intrusive frequency means my hand now instinctively reaches for the remote control whenever the puppets appear. It may work for Wonga but if it does, it does so a the expense of every other advertiser.

  40. The FunkeyGibbon

    I wondered if they have considered....

    Screen sizes? Everything could be broadcast in 4:3 and the edges of the screen could be used for honking great big adverts that really don't distract from the content AT ALL. Honestly.

    Now where have I seen that before...?

  41. Tony Paulazzo

    The number of poor TV stations in America - No results

    the number of poor people in America - 136, 000, 000 pages

    Viacom, Disney, General Electric and News Corp own American TV.

    Disney profits up 14% to $1.2 Billion, Viacom up 56% to $3.33 Billion, GE 8.3% rise, net income of $3.5 billion and News Corp... well, they've had stuff happening to them, but still recorded profit that topped analysts estimates.

    Maybe they could put some of that obscene profit margin back into producing TV shows.

    Have quality control on adverts and only show them between (not during) programmes; ad jumpers / strippers probably wouldn't even have a market then.

  42. Tom 13

    Re: logistically it's nonsense and a decision we might all live to regret.

    Too late. Ads stopped being relevant to most people with the advent of the remote control which included a mute button. DVRs were merely the coffin nails. The only ads people watch these days are the ones that are at least as entertaining as the shows.

    Get over it.

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