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News | 08/15/2001 4:00 am EDT

Bell ExpressVu unveils plans for personal video recorder
Bell ExpressVu LP will begin selling personal video recorders (PVRs) that allow customers to freeze, re-start and replay live television programming beginning in September across Canada. Its model 5100 PVR contains an on-screen programming guide capable of pausing real-time television shows and recording up to 30 hours of content on a 40-gigabyte hard drive that can be rewound or fast-forwarded. It also contains an advanced lock system that allows parents to block out programs based on rating, channel or adult content. The 5100 PVR system complete with receiver, remote and dish will retail for $699, but buyers are eligible for a $100 programming credit. Terry Snazel, Bell ExpressVu’s VP of technology, told CCR that ExpressVu is approaching the PVR differently from cable. "Cable is not doing what we are doing, which is building the PVR in a set-top box. Cable’s strategy is to essentially have hard drives scattered throughout their cable system to do the kinds of things we’re doing with our PVR," he says. Rogers Communications Inc VP of product development Michael Lee has said that the cableco wants its enhancements to come through its network so upgrades can easily be made across its subscriber base. Ian MacLean, VP of Media Expert’s iTV Lab, says the introduction of the PVR will not result in viewers using it to skip commercials. A key finding of Media Expert’s research is that "the PVR, with its comparative simplicity of operation, when compared with a VCR, results in an increase in television viewing by the light television viewer." That group is the most desirable and elusive of demographic groups to advertisers as it includes more mobile, high-income earners, managers and professionals with demanding careers that prevent them from viewing their favorite shows, according to MacLean.

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