Cell Phone Blocking: Coming Soon To A Movie Theater Near You?

Dennis Faas's picture

Moviegoers may always have Paris -- to quote the famous line from Casablanca -- but will they always have access to their cell phones once the theater lights go down?

Many of the people who voted in a recent UK newspaper poll actually hope not. The reason is obvious: no one likes being interrupted by an annoying "ring tone" in the middle of a movie. (Source: arstechnica.com)

Sadly, most theater owners don't seem to be doing much to combat the problem -- at least not enough to ease the frustrations of their fed-up customers. Over 80 percent of the poll-takers chastised managers for being lackadaisical in punishing inconsiderate cell phone users. 90 percent of the voters said that they've experienced the irritating buzz of a phone going off during a film, and 10 percent claimed that it happens every time they're in a theater. (Source: thestage.co.uk)

Unfortunately, those in favor of blocking cell phone signals in movie theaters are currently running against one very powerful piece of opposition: the law. It is illegal in both the U.S. and UK to jam a cell. Of course, if there's enough lobbying on both sides of the pond, things could change. France is already well on its way. Cell jamming is perfectly legal there as long as people are allowed make emergency calls.

Just one problem: how exactly is emergency status determined? Another issue: could theaters and other venues actually lose money if cell phone blocking becomes a reality? Some people might opt to stay home and watch a DVD instead of dealing with the hassles and potential problems that could stem from being inaccessible for many hours. Granted, everyone somehow managed in the era before cell phones, but times have changed.

A better solution could simply be to block ringing cell phones and automatically trigger a mechanism that will switch them to silent or vibrate mode. However, mobile companies would need to implement that technology into its phones first. (Source: arstechnica.com) The best solution of all: if everybody could just be thoughtful and switch their cells to vibrate or off before entering a movie theater, this problem would disappear faster than the Ben Affleck mega-bomb Gigli.

Now, how about those crying babies?

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