Channel surfing  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Channel surfing (also known as channel hopping or zapping) is the practice of quickly scanning through different television channels or radio frequencies to find something interesting to watch or listen to. Modern viewers, who may have cable or satellite services beaming down dozens if not hundreds or thousands of channels, are frequently channel surfing. It is common for people to scan channels when commercial broadcasters switch from a show over to running advertisements.

The term is most commonly associated with television, where the practice became common with the wide availability of the remote control. The first published use of the term is November 1986, in an article by The Wall Street Journal.

The term has some connotations relating to laziness, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity. The behavior itself may also suggest attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Channel surfing has been parodied on TV shows and in film, such as in the movie Toy Story 2, and several times on The Simpsons. Channel surfing is also used as an effect to move between sketches in some sketch comedies, such as History Bites and Robot Chicken.

Viewers' propensity to channel surf was apparently a factor leading toward the current ATSC standard for terrestrial television, digital television in North America. An ATSC signal can be locked onto and start being decoded within about one second, while it can take several seconds to begin decoding a Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) signal.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Channel surfing" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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