TiVo and other 'ad-skipping technologies' have caused an upsurge in product placements on network television shows. The 84%% increase in product placements on TV over the last year has drawn protests from both the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. An example from the article: 'In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.' Readers may also remember a controversial Cisco Systems product placement on Fox's 24.
So is TV for the writers or the viewers of TV? I’m reasonably sure that if TiVo and similar technologies spell the demise of commercials then only the hardcore commercial lovers will mourn their passing.
Will that mean some hack writers will have to sacrifice a bit of “artistic license” and do what they are told to do (does anyone actually believe that this doesn’t happen quite a bit on TV anyway? The majors have long been accused of “dumbing down” TV, why is product placement any different?) Sure, but then again is TV really primetime for writers anyway? The premium channels (read HBO) and movies are where the best talent seems to end up anyway.
If artistic integrity is more important than the almighty paycheck, I’m sure that there are dozens of cable channels that would love to have them.