Ted Turner Unveils All-Commercial Channel

Fake News written by James Baughn on Monday, August 20, 2001

from the and-now-for-something-completely-different dept.

For years, the pundits have predicted that the Web would become more like television. However, media tycoon Ted Turner is pursuing the exact opposite. Taking a cue from pop-under advertisements, Flash ads, get-rich-quick spam emails, viral marketing, and "Gator" programs, Turner has unveiled "TCC", the Turner Commercial Channel, for cable and satellite TV.

TCC will feature "shows" like "Best Commercials That You've Seen A Million Times", "Life Is A Slogan, Just Buy It", and "Name That Jingle". These shows will occupy about 30% of the screen, while several rows of marquees at the bottom will flash various advertising messages. An animated "TCC" watermark will float around the screen while corporate logos are flashed randomly in the corners.

Meanwhile, "pop-up ads" will randomly appear that obscure the other ads. These pop-ups will sometimes be further obscured by meta-pop-ups. Likewise, corporate jingles will play in the background, interfering with other jingles and advertising sounds.

The real kicker, however, is that other Ted Turner channels will randomly cause "enhanced" television sets to automatically switch to TCC without warning. This "feature" will be accomplished by transmitting special codes within the unused bandwidth of the channel.

"Hey, if people don't get upset by X10 pop-ups taking them to another website, then why should they mind the same behavior on TV?" Ted Turner said at a press conference. "With this feature, the Turner Commercial Channel will have vastly inflated Nielsen ratings because millions of viewers will watch it whether they want to or not... just like the Internet."

Turner also pointed out that older model, "unenhanced" TVs might suffer random crashes and shut-off as a result of the "special codes" embedded in the signal. He defended such behavior, saying, "Hey, that's just like the Internet. If you've got an obsolete Pentium 90 trying to load some huge Flash animation or Java applet, then of course it might crash. Why should television be any different?"

In response to the Turner announcement, Sorny Electronics Inc. issued a press release touting its new "Crocodile(tm)" microchip. This devices will automatically cover-up Turner advertisements in real-time with Sorny advertisements. "Crocodile" will be included in Sorny VCRs, PVRs, set-top boxes, and gaming consoles -- whether the user wants it or not. The microchip will be extremely hard to disable and most people won't even know of its existence.

Industry pundits are somewhat pessimistic about the new channel. "Sure, more intrusive advertising formats on the Internet have been shown to be '40% more effective' than traditional banners ads. But that just means the advertisers receive 40% more hate mail and bomb threats," said one pundit. "Bomb threats usually doesn't translate very well into sales."

Some industry analysts have also questioned whether people will actually watch a channel devoted exclusively to commercials. Turner responded, "We're going to pay hospitals and doctors a stipend for tuning their waiting room televisions to TCC for so many hours a day. That's a captive audience. After thumbing through all of the old magazines, patients will have no choice but to watch this new channel."

Ted Turner added, "Schools should also be interested. We'll provide free TVs and dishes if they'll show TCC in classrooms each day. Schools have already sold their souls to receive free Internet-ready computers in exchange for captive eyeballs, so why not just extend it to television?"

According to Turner, the new channel should be available within the next week on every cable and satellite provider in North America. (These providers will all receive a nice stipend for carrying the channel.) Versions of TCC in Spanish, French, and German will be available worldwide by the end of the year.

Steve Case, Rupert Murdoch, and Bill Gates were both unavailable for comment at press time, although all three of their spokespersons said essentially the same thing: "Why didn't we think of this first?"

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