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back to article It's time to burn the schedules and seize control of OUR TVs

Freesat's redesigned user interface for its set-top boxes is a welcome improvement even if it is aping YouView. But the way in which we command and control our TVs will remain locked in the last century until everyone knows just what a modern telly set can do these days. Using a television used to be very simple, back when TVs …

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> live TV is available from a menu but not considered something one would want to get involved in.

That's the way I've been using Sky+ since I first got it. I only wish Sky PVRs had a 'jump forward' facility instead of the poorly implemented 'fast forward'.

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Black Helicopters

The downside of "Smart TV's" is you will have someone looking over your shoulder seeing what you are watching. Will the government yank you out of a queue at the airport for a special search because you watched a doco on Al Qaeda last night? Or is it just a matter of time before advertising gets involved "suggesting" programs to watch.

As always, technology is a double edged sword.

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re: advertising

Just wait until the tech advances enough that instead of holding a can of Coke (or Moxie), the actor will hold a green-screen friendly can. The label will be applied depending on which market you're in and which company bids highest...for each showing of the program.

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Stop

Re: re: advertising

You are aware that we're already there ?

SFW link

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Re: re: advertising

A bit like the recent England game then.

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re: Smart TVs

I don't have a tv and haven't for a looong time but do occasionally avail myself of my various mates' boxes when I'm catsitting (like now).

Trouble is, I often don't because there's usually two controllers and sometimes three, so unless I'm given a quick recap before they go, I often can't get them working. The main problem isn't choosing channels, it's usually trying to suss what input I should choose, and where on the menu these inputs are specified. I've spent 20 minutes trying to get a picture. I'd rather spend 20 minutes playing with el moggy.

But trouble is, it often *is* channels. Over the years I've noticed there's steadily less on so if I do watch anything now it's either the news, or Airport, or one of the programs where they follow round coppas who are trying to rein in endless low-level scrotes (poisoning the mind of so many people watching with the impression that this is the norm in real life. It isn't. I do use the word Poison carefully here).

Nothing else is remotely interesting. There's bugger all on IME. Partly I've grown up and got picky, but undeniably quality has nosedived (or been pushed sideways into paid channels).

And the other trouble with smart TVs, well, I was watching something a while back and the box went alarmingly dark for a couple of seconds then came up on a different channel. It had rebooted. Are we at a stage now where tvs are so complex we can't rely on them to do their job? Seems so.

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Re: re: advertising

@Test Man. You mean the Italy v England friendly played in Switzerland? I had the benefit of being able to watch that game on both UK and Italian 'terrestrial' TV. ITV pictures were taken from cameras on the opposite side of the stadium from those for the rest of the world which saw normal pitch-side electronic billboards, while UK viewers were treated to real-time electronic overlays superimposed on on static billboards on the other side of the pitch. The fact that the overlays were crap and got switched off a third of the way through the transmission because players were 'disappearing' in close-up shots gave the lark away!

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Re: re: advertising

Yep, that's the game!

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Re: re: Smart TVs@ BlueGreen

"I've spent 20 minutes trying to get a picture. I'd rather spend 20 minutes playing with el moggy"

Hmmm. Watch TV or play with a pussy - no contest really :)

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WTF?

WTF?

"Keeping a list of directors, actors and subjects of interest for automatic recording is also a TiVo-owned concept,"

How the heck can TiVo 'own' a concept and have patents on it?? The concept of advice based on known previous likings has been implemented by family, friends and colleagues for ages, ever since the mass production of novels.

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Happy

Re: WTF?

Wait, are you saying that the US grants patents on silly things?

Never heard that before.

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Unhappy

Re: WTF?

For a real eye opener look at some of the patents awarded to Gemstar (now Rovi). They basically claim any and all EPGs and certainly used to use them to bully manufacturers into including their guide.

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Re: WTF?

"Keeping a list of directors, actors and subjects of interest for automatic recording is also a TiVo-owned concept"

Damn - now I'll have to erase my frontal lobe cortex ... I'm sorry TiVo, I didn't mean to infringe on your patent by thinking. What the heck are they going to patent next - I'm off to the patent office to patent whacking off.

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You can lead a viewer to VoD

... but you can't make them watch it.

ISTM there's a vast proportion of the TV audience (across all age groups) who's TV watching style is simply to vegetate in front of the goggle box and watch the least-worst programme on the 2 or 3 prime channels. Where "prime" is a movable feast depending on whether they're a habitual BBC watcher or an ITV fan.

For the rest of us, possibly the minority of the population - maybe even a small minority, the main feature of a PVR is to skip advertisements. If I had to give up every feature of mine, except for FF I wouldn't be that concerned. The explosion in new channels hasn't really increased the breadth of programming available - it's main function has been to increase the number of repeats and +1's thereby obviating the other main function of a PVR: to prevent missing a programme due to schedule clashes (though obviously, the abillity to watch stuff according to one's personal timetable is nice, but see above: re. vegetating).

If I had the choice, I'd dump broadcast TV in an instant (and the licence fee that goes with it). I'd much prefer an Amazon style of consumption where I paid the going rate for the programmes (ad-free 'natch) I like and received a set of suggestions of "other people who watched .... also liked ....". With a bit of forethought, that feature could even be automated by monitoring which programmes were watched from beginning to end, rather than cancelled mid-stream. Just so long as I don't get promotional on-screen inserts when I'd trying to watch the footy.

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Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

When I think VoD I think of a system like YouTube (but with better content and video quality). A system where all the content that the distributor has the rights to is available immediately. If I want to watch the next season of CSI in one sitting I should be able to. I shouldn't have to wait for C5 to dribble it out episode by episode, week by week. ABC Studios release it to C5 and bam! I can watch all the episodes.

Okay so some series are released to broadcasters before all the filming is complete but the functionality I want here is complete freedom from broadcaster's scheduling. If a 'show' is complete I want to be able to watch it.

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Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

10 years ago I was trying to tell people that this is the way TV was heading, with a reduction in the importance of scheduled programming and a move to on-demand viewing... and in a lot of ways we're still not much closer to it.

There are, in general, 3 different type of viewers / viewing habits:

Some people like to have programs at set times because it allows them to schedule their lives (*) around something fixed and gives them a routine to follow, which makes them feel comfortable and secure. These tend to be the same people who go apoplectic when there's a schedule change due to something they're not currently interested in such as live sport or significant news event. Advertising can be sold on the time slot due to the age old established profiles of viewers during these fixed times.

Others like to watch what they want to watch, and are happy to wait for it to be "released" at a certain date and time but want to want to watch it at their convenience. In other words, these are the record it and watch it later people for which series link and smart EPG recording is so useful. Advertising can be sold in the breaks in these programs based on the program itself, however the slots before and after the program are of little value in this regard. Due to the recorded nature of the programs and therefore the availability of the fast-forward function, the adverts either have to be very recognisable or direct so they can be spotted even at 16-32x playback or embedded within the program itself as product placements. The viewers in this category are typically considered more affluent than the scheduled program watchers.

Another group are more "grazers" - they pick and choose what they want to watch in fairly arbitrary ways. With no real regard for schedules or planned recordings they tend to watch odd singleton items or pick up on series after (or part way) through their release. For these people, catch up TV and on-demand services are the enabler however advertising is hard to put in place as they are usually quick on the fast-forward function which leaves either non-skippable advertising (usually at the beginning of a feature) or product placement. Viewers in this category are generally of two camps - those who are happy to pay for content (such as on demand films) and those who aren't.

Most real people transition between these viewing profiles to some extent, for example using the "catch up" features to catch up with a scheduled series and then to switch to watching it live when it is released.

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Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

I'm definitely the second group. As I have a Freeview+ HD box, I'm not desperate to watch the programmes the moment it's being broadcast. I let the box record it and watch it later, even if it's 2 mins later or 2 months later, leaving me free to continue what I'm doing until I feel like watching the programme.

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Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

Same here except if a film is just starting on a channel that carries ads I hit the record button go for a smoke and come back safe in the knowledge I have enough recorded time banked up that I can skip the adverts.

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I have plenty of choice on offer from my TV but life away from TV also offers lots of choice so I don't get around to watching must of this sort of TV. I've got DVD boxed sets that have had barely watched and I can't see when I will get around to watching. However if I see something on the TV Schedule I want to see, I will make an effort to put aside all the other interesting thing I could be doing and set aside that hour or whatever to watch. However, if that hour was offered up in a list of things that I COULD watch whenever I had an hour free, I wouldn't probably ever get around to watching it.

I don't want to spend my life in front of a TV endlessly choosing what to watch. I'm happy to look at Radio Times and see what is on and arrange my schedule around that. I can't see offering me MORE choice would help in any way.

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Pro-choice...

> I don't want to spend my life in front of a TV endlessly choosing what to watch. I'm happy to look at Radio Times and see what is on and arrange my schedule around that. I can't see offering me MORE choice would help in any way.

You've never tried to cancel a Sky subscription, have you? I said "I don't use it", standard response is "you need more channels". Blech

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What's hot

Maybe we will gravitate towards a my favourites, recommended and what's hot style of viewing. Most people freeze with too much choice , you really just want to choose from things that you want while having a route into new things that you might like.It might be lazy but if my TV could guess what I might want to watch and lay it out on a plate for me then that is cool, I have to do enough thinking at work I like to relax when I get home.

On the other hand I get far more enjoyment from playing football with my daughter in the garden so maybe I should just unplug the dam thing!

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my friend's four-year-old

Doesn't understand broadcast TV. For him, TV is where his programmes are. He watches exactly what he wants, exactly when he's allowed to. Sometimes he's at houses where TVOD isn't available and he genuinely doesn't get why he can't watch Octonauts or Chuggington. Making you wait until something is "on" is not what a TV does in his world.

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

My two kids are the same. Wrote a blog post on it in fact: http://www.daddacool.co.uk/2012/07/57-channels-and-nothin-on.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: my friend's four-year-old

It's exactly the same with my four-year-old son! As parents, we prefer on-demand since we determine what he watches (well, for the time being, I guess). There are no adverts for the latest toys, fast food joints, confectionery, etc.; there are no trailers for the next programs. In our own home, so far so good. The trouble begins with trips to others' houses and, more recently, our hotel room TV. At that point we had to threaten to have the TV removed to maintain authority.

And he's crazy about Octonauts as well!

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

This.

My four year old also loves his Android pad with specially-designed icons that launch certain programs, and dislikes when he has freeview only and has to be shown what ever is showing.

However, if he has the ability to choose what he wants to watch, he would rather watch 30 episodes of Octonauts back-to-back than to have a varied broadcast.

I don't think broadcast TV will go away, and I don't think that it should be ditched either. Only by being forced (comparably) to watch something do you know if you like it or not. How many people do you know that will risk an hour of their life to try something new or use an hour to catch up on a series that they already like?

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

My kid is the same. Even from baby-like times, "computer" was synonymous with "device that plays my favourite video when Daddy presses the button". And TV was the same.

Broadcast TV is all but dead - it's only a matter of time - because I do the same thing myself. If I hear from a friend about something I should watch, I try two episodes. Anything less is potentially skipping something quite good by accidentally hitting a rubbish episode. Anything more means I should go out and buy it for myself. Then I go and buy a boxset.

Waiting for things to come on TV is like a token-ring network, newsgroups, gopher and batched email - dead.

I don't think the alternative is VoD (because that has problems - and pricing - of its own), but just pre-recorded content on personal devices. A bit like music - nobody really listens to the radio for the latest /greatest / favourite songs any more. It's background noise and a nice mixture for those who need something playing. Their music is stored in pre-recorded content on devices they own and they have EVERYTHING they want on there and NOTHING else.

If you hear a song on the radio that you REALLY like, do you a) Go and google somewhere to buy it, b) wait for it to be played again on some radio station?

It's a *good* thing. I'd rather my daughter chose what to watch than watching mind-numbing adverts for things she's NEVER going to get crammed in between programs that she doesn't like, don't hold her attention or I disapprove of. And then, when it is a rainy day, she's quite happy to go watch some pre-approved DVD that I know is "appropriate" for her for the millionth time (hell, I did stuff like that when I was a kid too, even WITH a plethora of TV available) rather than being bored by, and subjected to, blatant commercialism which I might have to "censor"/"audit"/"veto" constantly.

And thus, TV by its very nature, removes its own funding source (advertising) unless it moves onto VoD or ruining pre-recorded media (which is fine - do that, and I'll find a way to UNDO it just like I did for DVD CSS, etc.)

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

@Amb... Cr... (can't even spell your handle...)

Indeed, broadcast won't go away because it provides, amongst other things, "event" viewing for families. It's that circa 7-8pm time on Saturdays when you can sit down and have a laugh (in my case ironically of course) and watch something light and probably fatuous like , cough, Strictly Come Dancing.

For one thing, shows like that provide a natural to bed time, which is handy.

The rest of the time, the kids just OD on recorded The Regular Show or whatever.

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

Ditto everyone else - been there done that. We got series 1 TiVo when our sons were 5 and 1 and both immediately made the association TV == TiVo and were very put out at other peoples hosues to find they couldn't pause TV etc and got used to idea that a collection of their favourite programs would be already recorded waiting for them to watch. Still the same today 11 years later ... only difference is the selection of programs has moved on from Telletubbies/Tweenies to Futurerama/Castle. Meanwhile, there is still a role for "live TV" ... its called endless reruns of TopGear or QI on Dave!

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

If you're in a VOD world (Virgin's TV catchup in our house but likewise iPlayer etc) you're still somewhat at the mercy of the channels, or at least their copyright policy. There's no good explanation that will satisfy my almost-three year old as to why he can watch all the episodes of In the Night Garden he likes on catchup, but can't watch Baby Jake or Thomas.

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Meh

You don't know what you like

@Ambivalous Crowboard said, "Only by being forced (comparably) to watch something do you know if you like it or not." As the old saying goes, you don't know what you like, you like what you know....

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

Yep, this is the thing. Soon, there'll be a whole generation of viewers who won't have experienced broadcast schedules or TV as us oldies have. Us adults are accustomed to waiting till broadcast time to watch a programme, but I can see youngsters in 20 years time just not bothering with this as they can watch stuff at any time after it's been "released" (will be new name for "broadcast") in a wide range of formats.

Hell, I can see a time when film format releases (for example) converge, so that you can watch it on your phone, TV, computer, console, set-top box or big-screen cinema all at the same time at appropriate price points. There'll be no big-screen cinema releases first, then DVDs 12 weeks later, then streaming services later, then TV broadcasts after a year, it'll all be multiple viewing formats all at the same time.

Maybe.

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Re: my friend's four-year-old

> ... watching mind-numbing adverts for things she's NEVER going to get

That made me laugh because I remember the desperate yearning advertising would cultivate in me as a child for stuff I didn't really want or need!

That said, I do still fight the urge to upgrade various tech devices to this day, but at least it's my money I'd be spending...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: my friend's four-year-old

To all those of you with a 4-year old (and there seem to be many on this thread!), can I suggest that you acquire foreign language, on-demand cartoons and then allow your child to watch as many as he/she likes, provided they are not in English?

I did this with my son (except back then it was analogue satellite!) and the channel of (his) choice being Super RTL. Now aged 16 his German is fluent and learning it was effortless.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: my friend's four-year-old

That's a great idea :)

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Joke

Workers of the world unite...

You have nothing to lose but your TV guides....

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"If I had the choice, I'd dump broadcast TV in an instant (and the licence fee that goes with it)."

You do, actually. You could use on-demand services, as long as you do not watch anything live. You'd have to detune your television receiver equipment and unplug all aerials and satellite dishes to be safe from prosecution.

The only thing is, if you're into sports, you'll probably want to watch those live. Even though you have to pay a provider for the privilege, since these are live broadcasts, you still need the TV licence. You could choose just to watch those when they are streamed by on-demand services instead.

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Being safe from prosecution

"You'd have to detune your television receiver equipment and unplug all aerials and satellite dishes to be safe from prosecution."

No - you'd have to not own a device capable of receiving a live broadcast, to be safe from prosecution.

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Watching "live" by PAYG

> The only thing is, ...

Yes, the gap is that there's no mechanism for a subscription service to take a payment from a viewer for a live programme and then pass that on to the government to bung to the BBC in lieu of having a TV licence. I also suspect that the very last thing the BBC wants is to have their income linked to ratings.

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Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

"I also suspect that the very last thing the BBC wants is to have their income linked to ratings."

I think you'll find that most people who support the concept of a public service broadcaster would rather it stuck to its remit (to inform, educate and entertain - probably in that order) than chase ratings.

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Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

> would rather it stuck to its remit ...

I certainly would. The problem with the remit is that since the Beeb get financed by government with our money, they have an obligation to show programmes that people want to watch, not ones that people should watch because it's good for them. Hence they will always have one eye on the ratings, in order to justify the billions that's dropped in their laps every year. But also, making popular programmes helps them fulfill their unofficial remit - which is sticking it to the commercial channels.

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Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

Exactly! I was starting to think I was alone in my viewpoint that the BBC as a PSB shouldn't necessarily be chasing ratings; I see their job as to provide the bits that commercial TV doesn't. If the manage to get big ratings then grate, but it shouldn't be their primary goal. I do realise that in my ideal they wouldn't show a lot of sport, soaps and such like, but it's not as if they're not available on the commercial channels.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Being safe from prosecution

Nope, just not using it is good enough.

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/what-if-a-tv-licence-is-not-needed-top12/

"A reminder of the law

The law states that you need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorders.

You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD."

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Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

The BBC's excuse for having a license fee failed many years ago. They pander to the lowest common denominator and chase ratings just like the commercial channels do for the most part.

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Re: Being safe from prosecution

"No - you'd have to not own a device capable of receiving a live broadcast, to be safe from prosecution."

You can not be prosecuted for owning a TV, video or PVR, etc. You do not need to unplug or detune anything. Just do not watch 'live' TV. It is up to the prosecutors to prove that you are offending. Also do not sign anything to make the prosecutions case or let a stranger into your home.

Try reading the terms on the TV licensing site instead of spreading shite.

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Re: Being safe from prosecution

Not sure if your post was being sarcastic, but if you were being serious, you are wrong....

There is NO requirement to unplug or de-tune when you stop paying for the TV license; the ONLY requirement is that you DO NOT USE the equipment (de-tuned or otherwise) to "watch or record television program's as they are being broadcast"

A member of the Crapita Gestapo may try and con you in to thinking otherwise, but ask yourself why? Hint: they get bonus / commission based on successful prosecutions

The only way you can be SUCCESSFULLY prosecuted, is by said Gestapo WITNESSING you "watch or record television program's as they are being broadcast" OR you confessing to them that you do it

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Re: Being safe from prosecution

The TV Licensing people do not agree with your interpretation. Please read http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/what-if-a-tv-licence-is-not-needed-top12/ paying particular attention to the paragraph highlighted in yellow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Being safe from prosecution

That's completely false. It's use, not ownership, that decides if you need to pay. Just like fishing rods. Check the law. The TV Licensing Authority (TVLA) recently removed this helpful paragraph from the FAQ part of their site:

"Q What if I only watch videos?

If a television or video recorder (VCR) can receive signals, then you need a licence. However, you don't need a licence if the equipment is not connected to an aerial, satellite receiver or cable and you only use it to watch pre-recorded tapes. This sometimes happens in schools and colleges."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Being safe from prosecution

False. Ownership doesn't matter. Use does.

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Fogey Baird

I still like seeing what's "on". If there's nothing I want to watch then I won't bother.

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