We all know those people. The kind that proudly don’t own a TV, don’t need one and don’t want one. I know people like that and I sympathize. I agree that TV can be an intrusive presence and a real conversation stopper, not to mention it’s a medium dominated by corporate advertising which I despise.
Still, I never counted myself among those ranks because there is something mind-numbingly pleasing about watching a good show, even a cop show. Yes, this anti-authoritarian, anti-corporate activist likes him some CSI.
We also all know people who feel that owning a TV is needless, because anything that can be watched can be watched online these days. I know these people, in fact I am one of these people. At least publically, I’m a huge advocate for and promoter of the idea that the web will replace all conventional media one day.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy sitting down from time to time and letting some programmer offer up what I’m going to consume. We all enjoy a good sit, don’t we? There’s something pleasing about knowing that I can just flip on the tube and something (at least remotely) interesting will be playing.
Sadly, I don’t have that privilege anymore. You see, I have rabbit ears and for years, those have served up almost all the shows I needed. But now, thanks to a CRTC ruling designed to make more room for cellphone and other signals, all over-the air analog TV signals have been replaced by digital ones.
That doesn’t mean that rabbit ears don’t work anymore, they just don’t work on their own. You need to pay for a converter, which costs up to $100. I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. It’s almost like buying a new TV and TV just isn’t my top priority right now. I also don’t see myself getting cable or sattelite TV. It’s just not worth it given what I watch and what I can get online.
It’s not like we weren’t warned. In fact I wrote about this very subject as an impending threat on this site over a year ago and the US has been living without analog signals for over two years. But all the warnings in the world are meaningless when you really don’t want to have to go out and buy an additional device just to watch free TV.
Beyond the price, though, the concept just bugs me and not only because I can see the transmitter from my window but can’t access what it is sending out. It’s the fact that something that was free for years now costs money. It’s not progress, it’s profit. Small profit but profit nonetheless.
It also takes away from the possibility of TV being used as a public service. I know that it’s been far from that for years already and was even created as an advertising medium in the first place, but at least it was possible.
Just a week ago, community radio in Vermont proved just how useful it was in getting vital information out when Irene knocked out the Internet. It’s a shame that TV will never get that chance.
It’s also bringing us one step closer to being fully a part of the grid. Yeah, a converter box is anonymous, but how long will it be before we just plain need cable or satellite to watch TV.
In England, they have a TV Tax and inspectors. That sounds kinda Orwellian to me. I wonder how long it will be before we have something like that here.
Now, this may be a little overboard and paranoid, but at least it would make a great plot for a new series. Too bad it’s the kind of series that I wouldn’t ever look for but may enjoy if it shows up on my TV. Guess I’ll be missing that one.
* photo by Cindy Lopez