The BBC was accused yesterday of Orwellian tactics after digital video machines in thousands of homes were switched on remotely to record Caroline Aherne's new sitcom Dossa and Joe. The move was described as the equivalent of junk mail.
Many of the 50,000 households that own TiVo machines awoke on Friday to discover that the 30-minute programme had been downloaded on to their recorders without having asked for it.
It is the first time a broadcaster has used the new technology to try to boost audiences for a show.
TiVo's selling point is its ability to "remember" to tape viewers' favourite programmes and similar shows, based on a list of preferences. However the BBC sent Dossa and Joe to all the machines regardless of preference.