Sunday, November 08, 2009

Stop the "Stop the TV Tax" commercials.

First off, it's not a tax.

Secondly, don't you want to slap that little d-bag who accosted those "random passers-by" on the street?

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I hate cable companies, because they screw people over for fun and profit. I'll give you an example.

For years, I subscribed to the "basic cable plus a few extra channels" package — you know the deal, I get Discovery and Comedy and the rest, but not the fancy-pants movie networks — and didn't mind paying a few extra bucks. But, I started to think about how little TV I watch, and how most of what I watch can either be found on a free over-the-air channel (e.g. Stewart/Colbert on CTV instead of Comedy) or on basic cable (CBC Newsworld, CP24 and its assorted sexy personalities (seriously, CityTV must be reading my mind these days), and of course CPAC), and... well, it didn't make much sense anymore to pay for all those extra channels when, at most, I'd watch two or three.

And now, the kicker. A friend of my parents, who lives out in the suburbs of Calgary, told me that their cable provider lets them subscribe, if they want, to the other out-of-area Rogers Sportsnet channels for $5 a month. (I live in the Ontario region; there are also East, West and Pacific channels as well.) This confirms something I'd suspected all along: cable companies can let you have single channels, but they would rather make you pay for shit you would never watch, call it a "package," and rake in the bucks.

Meanwhile, of course, local TV stations in Brandon, Red Deer, Wingham and (almost) Windsor have shut down because they don't have enough revenue coming in. Now, as uneventful and uninteresting as a small-city TV news broadcast might seem to some of you city-slickers, this sort of thing is important if you're in Brandon and all you can now get is news from Winnipeg; same goes for Red Deer and either Edmonton or Calgary.

What the annoying d-bag in the commercials doesn't talk about is how smaller cities can easily get overlooked if they don't have a local voice telling the stories that matter to them. As much as I always thought the local-yokel Sarnia radio station news was boring... well, maybe there was a reason my parents would always listen to it. Mind you, we also watched the evening news from Detroit (where single-murders rarely got a mention; triple-murders on the east side of town seemed to really get top billing), so we got a mix. But, if you live in a more remote community, and you don't have a local TV or radio station, how are you going to hear about stuff happening around you? You won't.

Oh, and we didn't have cable growing up — not because my parents were cheap or anything, but we were in such a small town that cable just wasn't available. If it wasn't for the TV stations in London and Kitchener, we would've only had Detroit and Toronto.

Anyway, the point of all this is that local TV does matter. You may not realize it if you've always lived in a big city, but if you don't, it does. Stop the Stop the TV "Tax" people, and fuck Ted Rogers.

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