A system and method for controlling a digital video recorder on a cable network. Signaling associated with the answering or initiation of a digital telephone call by a digital telephone subscriber is used to issue commands to a digital video recorder (DVR). A signal is generated by an MTA when the telephone is enters an “off-hook” state and sent to the DVR to initiate recording of a program being viewed by the called party. When the phone goes “on-hook”, the called party resumes watching the program from exactly where it was interrupted. The MTA may be connected directly to the VTD/DVR and the telephone state is determined by the DVR from information provided by the MTA. Alternatively, a soft switch monitors signaling from the MTA indicative of the state of the called telephone. A telephone state message comprising the telephone state information is then sent over an out-of-band channel/path to a DVR client within the VTD. The DVR client uses the telephone state information to control a DVR.