TW cable adds DVR tech

Co. to offer set-top boxes by end of summer in some markets

HOLLYWOOD — Time Warner Cable is letting some customers pause live television and digitally record programs through a new set-top box similar to those sold by TiVo and ReplayTV.

The nation’s second largest cable company said Wednesday it will offer the cable set-top boxes with digital video recorders by the end of summer in some markets. Time Warner said it is not yet sure where the service will be offered or at what price.

Decision seems at odds with the position of execs in other parts of the AOL Time Warner empire who have expressed alarm at the impact that personal video recorders will have on broadcast networks that rely on advertising for revenue.

Last week, Jamie Kellner, chairman of Turner Broadcasting System, also owned by AOL TW, said television viewers could face paying for channels they now receive at no cost if DVRs kill commercials.

ReplayTV features a button on the remote control that automatically skips ahead 30 seconds. It’s marketed as a way to “zap” television commercials.

The ad skip feature is also included in boxes marketed by satellite television provider EchoStar as part of its DishTV network. Rival DirecTV offers a digital recorder device but not the option to skip commercials.

The devices have frightened the major studios who make television programs and the networks that broadcast them. The studios have sued Sonicblue, makers of ReplayTV, claiming copyright infringement.

Time Warner Cable said it will offer set-top boxes made by Scientific Atlanta in an attempt to compete with satellite TV. And though the devices will allow viewers to fast forward programs, they will not include the controversial ad-zapping feature.

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