The Ad Zappers

Video recorders like TiVo, at first slow to catch on, are shaking up the TV business

John Harper watches plenty of TV. But he no longer does it the old-fashioned way: plunking down in front of the tube when his favorite shows air. Instead, he has his TiVo device hunt the listings for his weekly lineup, from Boston Public to Trading Spaces, and record the shows onto a hard drive. He watches what he wants when he wants. He loves being able to fast-forward through ads. And he's a fan of TiVo's pause feature, which can stop a broadcast, freeing him to take a phone call. Says Harper, 34, a sales administrator in Los Angeles: "I can't...

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