Hogging the Programming

     Here we are two days into the new year and all I want to do is rant about cable and satellite television. They have done exceptionally well at hiding the fact that everything they provide is FOR PAY. And that is important. Don’t forget that phrase because they will want to squirm around wiggle and get away from the reality that all they want to do is KILL free OTA.

     What is OTA? I am sixty-seven going on ….too dxxxxxd old! My recollection of the first television, and before that we listened to radio in the kitchen in our house in Queens County, New York, was my uncles’ tabletop behemoth with two speaker-looking appendages on either side of a nine or ten inch screen. That’s where, closer into the city even, I learned to enjoy Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, and I Love Lucy (which for some of the younger folk is still new programming). OTA is ‘over the air’ . That means that it is WIRELESS televison; apart from the power cord, of course.

     Then through some stroke of magic, in early 1953, dad had a seventeen inch Motorola delivered to the house. His friend, Paul Tomarchi, helped me grow up watching a set which stood the loooong picture tube on its’ end, and then broadcast the picture backwards into a mirror on an angle above into the room. The mirror caused the picture to re-form in the correct way. All I can say is that … it worked… You can find pictures of these and the history of early television on the internet. The fight over color broadcasting

      I have lived in this house in Orlando, Florida since October of 1999. Before that we lived in the Clearwater area, but in Pinellas county close enough to Tarpon Springs to put us into that school district. We’ve been here quite a while. And during that time, I have seen and even participated in the growth of cable and then satellite television. It was a slow, but now obviously steady progression of activity in that industry that puts us at the brink of losing OTA TV entirely. Let me be specific.

      Far too many homes now have cable or satellite as their primary servers of television entertainment. Local OTA stations fight for every penny they can get for their programming when up against the ‘wireless industry’ at contract time. Recently, Brighthouse, also known elsewhere as Time Warner,  pulled the plug on all CBS’ programming until CBS put up additional higher payment per show.

     I was not affected by this, or so I thought, because almost three years ago I ‘cut the cord’ and started watching Netflix, Hulu Plus, and then Amazon for my movies and other programming. But more about the non-choices available through our ‘Providers’ later. I enjoyed dialing up CBS.com on my computer, and splashing the latest Live at Letterman program at strange hours of the morning. During this last programming outage, even the re-broadcast of any CBS programming was out of my reach. Worse than that, I was NOT a TV subscriber. I was, and still am a subscriber to the high speed internet service; which should have NOTHING to do with OTA television whatsoever; but it did. And we had to wait, just like thousands of others in this area for CBS to ante up more money for Brighthouse and Time Warner to allow CBS programming to flow through the wire. It is the same at the satellite services; believe NOTHING else to the contrary.

     Worse than that is sports entertainment. We live in a smaller tourist greased hub with access to ALL the major network channels. All of them show the complete panoply of network programming, somtimes at different hours than network scheduled, but still broadcast all the same. It was three years ago, when I dropped the television coverage, that I realized sadly that ‘the Rose Bowl Game’ was not available OTA. It was locked up with ESPN; and continues to be so.

     Before this bowl season began, I looked up a programming list of ALL the bowls being broadcast. Only THREE appeared in an over the air format. All the REST belonged to ESPN and the NCAA in one way or another. That is scandalous. Don’t lecture me about Democracy and free choice and the free flow of money; that’s pure garbage. We are being squeezed into buying that which we do not want just to stay up and support our own local teams; and that folks JEST AIN’T RIGHT. By the way, how much does the quarterback for the UCF Knights get paid for his services??? If he is critically injured and has to leave the team, the university pays for his continued schooling because, after all, THEY HIRED him to play for them and secondarily go to the university so that it looked like he was getting an education on the cuff. Once he is too injured to play he is literally a goner. Bye Bye university! Bye Bye scholarship!! Bye Bye health insurance…..!!! Ha! you say, “but of course the universities in these FINE united states would not do that!” Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha …you get the meaning. It is sad if it were not so funny.

     We get squeezed to watch a program on a cable which is paid for by tax breaks give by the local town, city, or county. Payments are made for the programming directly by the …catch the neat wording now ….. SUBSCRIBER to the SERVICE….. And finally programming is paid to the producer directly in the form of fees per minute or thirty seconds of advertising on each programming. Hey! That’s a Three to ONE bonanza for the producer of the programming. Three to one. We don’t get that kind of a cut. We just get XXXX on. And we take it. It’s “the UHMERCAN way”, we say sheepishly, bow our heads and wait expectantly for the next shovel of cow dung. So the game has ads. The ads  draw in millions of dollars of revenue; part of which comes from your pocket. The cable, or satellite service gets money from you, and the cable systems have already enjoyed a transformation into a service which we as dutiful head-bowing dung eaters pay just as gladly as we pay for our electricity or water. Ain’t it grand????

     So UCF beat the dumb bastiches at Baylor. Baylor came into the game believing the hype. And UCF won. But UCF lost. It lost because LOTS of people had to crowd into bars to watch ESPN broadcast a program they have been twice paid for. And those folks REALLY didn’t need to go to a bar, pay lots of money for food and beer that they could have consumed at home with their friends IF the game had been broadcast over ABC which is also ESPN which is also DISNEY. Good luck with Disney. Rots a Ruck!

      And that is why I am pissed off today. It will only get worse. Programming on OTA television is already going to the dogs. I cannot still get a service which will charge me ONLY for a movie channel or two without having to eat a SEVENTY or more DOLLAR package. I won’t do it. And you should not have to do it either.

      Think about this. Would you pay someone for service which you had not ordered?? Would YOU? But you will pay for a package of programming counting up more than two hundred and fifty channels out of which maybe THIRTY are viewable for you and our family. And in that number of two hundred and fifty are SELLING channels and RELIGIOUS channels and maybe even NEWS channels disguised as news channels which you would not EVER watch. Would you pay for this?? It’s too late chum. It’s too late. Enjoy the re-runs of Beverly Hill-billys in B/W, old Jack Benny shows, Burns and Allen from the day one, and finally the thought provoking F-Troop with the hilarious indian tribe called the ‘hackawees’, because they always get lost and scream out, “where the hackawe?”