Philips Patent Would Freeze TV ‘Surfing’

Some companies say they listen to the customers. And some want the customers to listen to them.

Philips Electronics has applied for a U.S. patent for a device for televisions and settop boxes that would enable broadcasters to lock a channel during commercials, thus prohibiting viewers from changing the channel to avoid watching ads.

According to various reports, broadcasters would then charge viewers fees for allowing them to “unfreeze” their channels.

Philips asserted that the technology would allow users to watch television without the advertising.

“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,” the company said in a statement. “It is up to the viewer to take this decision, and up to the broadcaster to offer the various services.

A Chicago Tribune report said Philips does not plan to actually implement the technology in its products.

Maybe not. But while a TV that forces a viewer to watch may be good for millions of fingers sore from carpal tunnel brought on by constant channel flipping, it sure isn’t in line with what consumers want. My guess is, this is one feature that’s DOA.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow