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I was sitting on the train the other day (sounding like a terrible start to any story, writes Iain Overton). Next to me was this woman who was telling her work colleague that she had just had a PVR installed in her home.
PVR, just in case you don't know, stands for 'personal video recorder'. It lets you record TV programmes on its internal hard drive. Basically, it is like your old VCR, but without the need for tapes. And it contains more sophisticated software to record with - in some cases not just the stuff you ask for, but other programmes you might be interested in. It also means you can pause live programmes and you can rewind in case you missed something.
All in all it is quite a cool piece of kit - though it still seems to be a hard thing to sell in the shops for some strange reason.
Anyway, there I was and this woman was telling her friend about her PVR. She was ecstatic about it. She said it had changed her life. No ads, no 'there's nothing on telly tonight', no missing the start of your favourite show.
And it got me thinking - what would telly look like if you could have no ads in it? I am not alone in thinking about this. Ask any ad exec and he will say the same thought haunts him.
Initially I am sure TV would look great. And then the money that comes from advertisers to make the programmes would run out and then it wouldn't look so great. So, whilst it is human nature to want to skip all the ads when they interrupt an important or enjoyable programme, I am not really sure what this will all mean for the industry.
Who will pay for it all? Is the PVR the death of commerical TV? (I doubt it, but I can see why there are lots of worried people at ITV, Sky and possibly even at our paymasters - Channel 4).
I guess that their first, and probably most logical, line of defence is to try and get UK regulation changed so that product placement inside the shows can help pay for them. Which they are doing. All very well if you are producing Big Brother or How clean is your house? Not so good if you are in the business of hard-hitting current affairs or historical documentaries. The next thing might be that we get more subscription television.
All exciting stuff. I just hope that we here at ITN have a job at the end of it all...