Bob Fischer: Most channels not worthy of cable bill

With the local interest in the competition for Lord Stanley’s Cup at a close, I am at a loss for things I actually want to watch on television. While it may cost me my “Man Card,” I will freely admit that with the Blackhawks done for the season, I have no interest in watching hockey until fall.

The National Basketball Association was never a factor in this year’s TV viewing. Watching multi-millionaires play a game that barely resembles the contests of skill and finesse I grew up with is not happening. I am unappreciative of the evolution of Mr. Naismith’s game. I believe two steps without dribbling is travelling, and drives to the basket should not resemble a running back plunging for a first down.

FIFA’s World Cup or most of the other purported sporting events found on multiple cable channels do not excite me.

Interestingly, even without great interest in the bulk of this televised fare, I find myself paying for the privilege of having these contests available. One of the dirty secrets of our information age is that a significant price is being paid for the 24-hour flow of information, entertainment and space fillers that constitute television viewing.

Those of us with cable or satellite subscriptions are paying, whether we watch or not, and it keeps getting more expensive.

The old broadcast TV paradigm bundled a tolerance for commercial messages with free programming. Now we find ourselves paying for a broad collection of channels we may or may not want to have access to those few outlets carrying items of interest. More frustrating, in addition to paying to receive the service, are the seemingly endless commercial interruptions.

Adding insult to injury, a recent Federal Communications Commission report indicated that unregulated competition among broadcast providers leads to higher, not lower prices for subscription television services. The culprit behind these increased rates seems to be the number of special interest channels carried by operators seeking out content that will attract viewers.

Unfortunately, we end up paying for all of these channels, and the FCC’s report indicates that “the average monthly price of expanded basic cable service increased overall by 5.1 percent in the year ending January 1, 2013, while the average price per channel increased by 2.1 percent.”

These channels seem more interested in narrow casting, not broadcasting — slicing and dicing their programming focus (and associated advertiser messages) to appeal to very specific demographics — groups that do not include me. This channel specialization results in surfing through hundreds of listings, typically to no avail, while searching for suitable entertainment.

There is some local respite from TV’s wasteland. Most Thursday nights will be spent in Central Park enjoying the Naperville Municipal Band. The Park District has concert events at various locations three nights a week, too. There is a great selection of current and classic videos available for free to card holders at the Naperville Public Library.

As for sports, the White Sox are not too bad this year.

Bob Fischer is president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact him at bobfischer@wowway.com.

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