Time Warner Cable has been given a patent for its method of disabling fast forward on digital video recorders.
The invention of Charles Hasek is designed to stop the cable company's customers from skipping TV commercials.
The idea is that it can tell advertisers that instead of fast forwarding playback through commercials they can assure them that their customers are really watching.
Of course they can't stop the user from turning off the program because it is full of too many adverts, or just going to the loo.
But most advertisers are prepared to pay more money for such a gimmick.
The technology performs the opposite function of the Hopper multiroom DVR that Dish Network recently launched. Dish developed a technique for automatically removing all ads contained in primetime programming from the Big Four broadcast networks.
The company has already disabled the fast-forward function in some of the digital cable products that it offers to subscribers.
But observers say it is unlikely that Time Warner would bring in the advertisement system soon.
Users would just leave and go to DirecTV, Verizon and other multichannel providers that distribute DVRs that allow subscribers to skip commercials. But it could offer it as an additional cheaper service to encourage users to buy the content but with advertising installed.