Television: The Phantom Plug

The dream of the television pitchman is wondrously simple: to get painlessly but surely inside the viewer's head. To make the dream come true, two young companies are peddling "subliminal perception," the psychological phenomenon whereby a sight too fleeting to register consciously takes root subtly in the viewer's subconscious mind. This technique could flash phantom plugs on the television screen at speeds too fast (around one three-thousandth of a second) for the viewer to realize that a Madison Avenue Rasputin was selling him beer not only between the rounds of a prizefight but between the very punches.

Last week FCC Chairman John...

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