Thursday, February 12, 2009

57 Channels and NOTHIN' ON...
...or, are you ready for the big signal switcheroo...?

I've heard a lot lately about the big switch to Digital TV, and how the Government is forcing television stations to comply. Okay, say I own a TV station and the Gov't tells me I've gotta convert, and I say "no." What are they going to do, ship me off to some media prison somewhere? Okay, I know that's a dumb observation, but still...let's say, just for conjecture, that our choices of Radio Station bands were about to be taken away. Imagine that the Federal Government, for whatever reason, has said that "As of June 30th, ALL radio stations have to convert to "FM". Huh? What? I know that the Federal Communications Commission permits radio stations to "simulcast" the same program at the same time over different radio frequencies and different bands. So, why, then, can't the Feds allow the same thing for TV stations (allow 'em to carry both digital and analog versions of their TV broadcasts)? Because THAT idea actually makes SENSE, and no one listens to me anyway. Instead, you'll have to spend a portion of your federally-approved "stimulus" bucks to go out and buy a converter, which will allow you to view the same prime-time-sitcom-garbage that you previously viewed before The Big Switch.
Of course, if your old analog TV set is hooked up to "Cable", (theoretically), you have nothing to worry about. Just keep paying your Cable Bill, and Your Service Won't Get Interrupted. Snicker, snicker...what's not mentioned in the government's dictation is that Cable Bills Just Keep Going Up And Up and Up, and there's nothing anyone can do about that. Where I live, You Cannot Get TV Reception Any Other Way except for Cable-TV, the nearest TV station being oh, about a HUNDRED MILES AWAY. So I'm stuck with good ol' Charter Communications, the provider where I live. The Cable Company's rationalization for charging their ever-increasing rates is, "well, we provide you with a whole lot of Television Networks You Can Watch to your heart's content." Are you kidding? I have probably 70-plus channels I can watch, and I'll bet I've never watched an entire program on 90% of those networks. In short, I'm paying for channels I'd never watch, even if you lashed my torso to a chair and pried my eyes open, 'the lids being held apart with barbed toothpicks.
I thought, with our increasing technology, things were supposed to get simpler...
Chances are, the folks who are paying for TV converter-boxes who live in populated areas aren't going to be getting NEAR the amount of TV networks one can view on Cable. So instead, they're going to be paying for the privilege, thru their converter-box, of watching Fewer Channels, by Government Mandate. Or, they can convert to Cable, where they can get more channels, although they'll have to pay monthly, rather than the one-time, however-much-it-will-cost fee to buy a High-Def converter box. Of course, there's lotsa folks, like me, living in the 'toolies, who can't get TV at all otherwise, converter box or no, so basically, I and others like me are slaves to The Almighty Cable. Right now, this evening, I have had the TV on One Channel All Evening. I'm feeling adventurous this evening. Maybe I'll switch to another channel just for the heck of it. Or maybe I'll somehow delude myself into thinking I'm getting my moneys' worth by flipping thru all the channels, thinking, "wow, all this for ONE LOW PRICE", except that it's not really low. And I don't wanna watch most of those channels anyway. That's the wide wonderful world of Cable TV; as Bruce Springsteen sang a few years back, Cable TV consists of "fifty-seven channels and nothing on", once you've subtracted the number of Channels you watch the most. Pay for stuff you don't use. It's the American Way.

I actually talked to a Cable-TV clerk once about All the channels I don't watch, wondering why I can't just pay for the channels I watch...and she informed me that Cable Rates would actually be More Expensive if that was an option, which of course it wasn't. In the end, though, it's me who's weak. After all, I can't live without TV, something which is way, waaay down on the list of Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs...


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