||It is stealing, Mad Geek.
No, it's not illegal. No, you didn't sign a contract to watch commercials in exchange for your entertainment. On a moral level, however, skipping commercials is, in fact stealing-- taking something without paying the known price.
Technology is not the only way to accomplish this theft, of course. People who can not afford PVRs or the monthly subscription fees can easily mute the commercials, or wander off to use the bathroom or fix a snack during a commercial break. Most only do things like this a fraction of the time, though, because most people are emotionally secure enough to recognize manipulative advertising and disregard it, thus enabling them to enjoy or ponder the wider significance of a given spot. But I digress.
The point here is that an elite, the owners of PVRs, are using these new tools to engage in what morally can only be called theft of television programming. So long as this group remains small, the thieves will probably continue to get away with it, and other viewers will be unaffected.
If this group grows, however, broadcasters and advertisers will most certainly react, and their reaction will result in a situation far less enjoyable than the one we have today.
If theft via commercial-skipping becomes widespread, then you cn bet that we will see a return to the early days of broadcasting, when advertising was simply worked into the script of the regular programming. There will be no commercial breaks. Instead, programming will be filled with seamless product endorsements. Not only will this compromise the viewing experience for PVR owners-- it will screw things up for everyone else, too.
So go ahead, steal your television. Put one over The Man, for a while. Be a rebel. And be ready for a world of resentment and anger from all the people who were never so insecure as to feel that they had to "protect" themselves from 30-second television adverts.
© 2002, RobotSlave. You may not reproduce this material, in whole or in part, without written permission of the owner.