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Original Issue


•THE POPULAR digital recorder TiVo has ended the tyranny of commercial interruptions and inflexible network schedules. The NFL now fears the service may offer freedom from the league‚Äôs decades-old broadcast rules. Last week the FCC ignored objections from the NFL and approved the technology behind the new TiVoToGo service, which will allow users to disseminate recorded programs over the Internet to far-flung TVs. The FCC‚Äôs decision may be the first move in a long legal battle. ‚ÄúWe will take whatever steps are appropriate to protect our interests,‚Äù says NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. The league is worried that fans will circumvent the blackout rules and regional broadcast system that ensure each Sunday-afternoon game is seen only in certain parts of the country--an end run around the league‚Äôs $17.6 billion deal with ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. TiVo says the recordings will be encrypted to prevent distribution to more than nine other TiVo boxes or computers. The NFL counters that if one of those users owns a bar, many more people will have access to games they shouldn‚Äôt see. --S.C.