Sometime within the next few months, Comcast Cable Communications plans to offer Nashville subscribers a new device that will remove the pixels often used to obscure parts of a television picture.
The most widely viewed example of pixelation may be the endless repetitions on news programs of the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Super Bowl stunt, in which Jackson’s bare breast was hidden behind pixels.
“If we had our new service in place then, our subscribers would have seen that video without the pixelation,” says Virgil Caudill, Comcast area vice president and general manager. “We don’t see this as a service that everybody would want, but a certain segment of our viewers really like seeing their news and entertainment without the filters that are sometimes applied.”
Caudill declined to say what the new service would cost, but in Philadelphia and Phoenix, where Comcast already offers the service, the price is $11.95 a month.
“We’ve been working to get the bugs out of it,” Caudill says. “Now we’re ready to roll it out to our other cities, and Nashville will be the next to get it.”
Some critics have pointed out that the ability to remove pixels from a television picture goes beyond the ability to get an unfiltered look at a celebrity breast or some naked drunk’s backside on Cops.
“This is a real privacy issue for the public at large,” says one Nashville attorney who is a self-confessed “Court TV addict.”
“What if the coverage of a trial includes obscuring a witness’s face for privacy or security reasons? This technology makes such safeguards obsolete. What are we as a society to do? Put a bag over the witness’s head?”
Such questions give pause to thoughtful people concerned about the impact of technology on our society.
Metro Council member Carolyn Baldwin Tucker is, predictably, fixated on other questions.
“This will allow children to see naked people on television,” she said when told of the coming Comcast innovation. “I think there are too many naked people visible in society, and I think it’s time the council investigated this.”
Viewers will be able to watch the council discussion unfold on Comcast Channel 3.
(The Fabricator is satire. Don’t believe everything you read.)
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