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The Dangers of DTV

Like most possibilities, DTV will also have its perils. It could bring even more of the things most of us don't like about TV and the Internet. It could create another opportunity for an invasion into your privacy. And it could be used to limit the amount of good TV entertainment available for free.

Through digital technology, marketers will be able to collect information about you, or your child. Indeed, they will have an incentive to collect that information because they can sell it to others, and use it to target commercial advertisements to your family. Marketers currently track your movements when you visit Web Sites, or purchase products over the Internet. Thanks to convergence, marketers will track not only this activity but which programs you watch, when you watch and how often you watch. When DTV arrives, these commercials will coax you (and especially your children) to ORDER NOW while the commercial is on the screen. These messages, furthermore, will be targeted not only to individual viewers and households, but to individual TV sets within a household.

Enhanced information about viewer preferences will also allow DTV broadcasters to learn which programs you most highly value, and which programs they might be able to put on pay-per-view. And, unless the rules change, there will be no ability of the FCC to limit the sort of program broadcasters put on pay-per-view (perhaps the Superbowl, or an educational program, or the latest Seinfeld), or what broadcasters can charge for a program.

Finally, while most Americans are now concerned about the level of violence and the amount of sexual activity on television, imagine how concerned they will become when violent, hyper-real computer games and the personal sex services of the Internet combine with high definition television. Do you want that remote control in your child's hands?

    See also CME's Infoactive, Spring 1998: Re-Defining Public Broadcasting in the Digital Age.

    See also reports by Mark Huisman in the Independent Film and Video Monthly.

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