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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 06:05 GMT
Viewers reveal changing TV habits
As part of the BBC News website's Future of TV series, three families reveal their contrasting TV habits.


By Howard Dickins, Cardiff

Our family still hold to that old-fashioned "one television" principle. It's simple family values really, a conscious decision to do things together.

It does mean we can't all watch what we want all the time, but actually no-one seems to get to much of an upper-hand in controlling the remote.

We all need to make little sacrifices - but we're a closer family as a result
My wife would happily watch medical programmes or gardening, my step-daughter would watch soaps, and my two sons (aged 10 and 11) would watch The Simpsons or other cartoons.

So I don't get to see University Challenge or Horizon very often. But it's not a big deal - actually, I can catch up with Horizon online if I really want.

There is enough common ground to make it work, which means we all need to make little sacrifices - but we're a closer family as a result.

It's not about coercion or control, it's merely a reflection of what's important to us. There are plenty of things more important than TV.

We could get a digital video recorder, and maybe we will. I'd rather do that than have a fragmented family where we don't see each other because we're all watching different programmes in different rooms.


By Phil Crick, Ripon, North Yorkshire

The way we watch television changed when we bought a media PC.

We used to watch programmes as they were broadcast and would sometimes set the video recorder.

I can't remember the last time we turned on the TV to watch what was on
Now, we hardly ever watch live TV - when we do it's either the news or sporting events.

Most of the time, we record things and just fast forward through the adverts.

You'd be surprised how long some programmes are without adverts - CSI is about 40 minutes and Lost usually less than half an hour. Watching TV in this way can save you time.

The "record series" function is invaluable - you only need to do it once and you'll never miss an episode. Searching by genre is also useful - we would never have watched Criminal Minds without it.

Being able to pause live TV or a recording is another function we use regularly - mainly when the phone rings or someone knocks on the door. This would have been impossible a few years ago.

I can't remember the last time we turned on the TV to watch what was on.

We always sit down with the intention of watching a recorded programme at a time that is convenient for us. Watching CSI early Saturday morning is not an unusual activity in our house!


By Jenny Day, Saltash, Cornwall

In the 1960s, I often wanted to save television programmes for posterity. In the 1980s, the video recorder finally let me to do it, but it changed the way I watched TV very little.

As recordings took effort to organise, I only recorded things I wanted to keep, and they also took space to store. Recordable DVD has reduced the space needed but I still only archive about 10% of my viewing in this way.

It's the end of TV as we knew it - in place of scheduled channels will be personalised ones matched exactly to our interests
Enter the PVR [personal video recorder]. Simple and quick to use, it revolutionised our viewing. Watch and wipe at the touch of a button what and when we like!

Nobody misses a show or finds that someone else has taped over it. The only thing we watch in real time is news. Everything else is viewed at the time and in the order that we want rather than the way that a broadcast executive planned.

The coming technology is even better. Currently, a PVR can only record what a channel transmits.

Broadband will change the broadcasters' role. Producers will put their catalogues online, on a pay-per-download basis, allowing intelligent broadband-connected PVRs all over the planet to browse and directly source material that matches our tastes.

It's the end of TV as we knew it. In place of scheduled channels will be personalised ones matched exactly to our interests.

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