Here is a scary article about disabling your remote control during a commercial when viewing programs on a DVR like a Tivo. Phillips Electronics has filed for a patent on this technology although they quickly add "the notion of temporarily crippling the remote control to protect advertising is already out there and did not originate with his company". Hey don't blame us, we didn't think of it, we're just going to put ourselves in a position to profit from it. There is also a fun tid bit in this article from the former head of TBS.
Four years ago, Jamie Kellner, then head of the Turner Broadcasting System, remarked in an interview in CableWorld magazine that viewers who used DVR's to fast-forward past commercials were committing "theft," then a moment later described it as "stealing the programming." He did allow trips to the bathroom as a noncriminal exemption.
Rather than thinking up stupid technologies that restrict and control how we view television, the industry needs to think about how they make the jump to the next realm of advertising as clearly advertising on TV is dead as we know it. There is no saving it. Much like the RIAA and digital music, the genie is out of the bottle. Stop crying over your old dead business model and move on to the next. Paid for digital downloads looks promising and I am glad to see ABC being so aggressive in this arena. Imagine, no Cable or Satellite bill. Pay everything a la carte via digital download.