The BBC has been criticised after sending viewers unsolicited copies of a new television comedy via the latest hi-tech video recorder technology.
Owners of TiVo VCRs, which automatically record a viewer's favourite programmes through a phone line connected to a central database, received the sitcom Dossa and Joe last week.
The 30-minute show is written by the Royle Family star Caroline Aherne and features the ex-Neighbours actress Anne Charleston. But more than 600 people complained about the marketing tactic, with some likening it to "spam" e-mails or junk mail. Others said their video recorders were overridden, forcing them to watch "foulmouthed rubbish", and that the BBC broke the 9pm watershed by sending the show at family viewing times.
The BBC, which began collaborating with TiVo two years ago, said it was still exploring the potential of the system to record programmes viewers might have missed.
But they added: "This collaboration is an additional service and does not impinge in any way on the facilities currently enjoyed by TiVo users, or use any of their storage space. TiVo users are in no way forced to watch the programme. In retrospect, a post-watershed programme should not have been used for this service."
The comments were made on a non-official website for TiVo users, who number about 400,000 in the UK and US.
The technology has been hailed as a revolutionary development in "personal television", giving viewers more control over what they watch. Up to 40 hours of programmes can be downloaded from the central database, recorded and stored without videotape, allowing viewers to plan their own schedules.
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