Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Off the Grid

I live in an area where some people brag about being off the grid. Frankly I like my electricity. But if I had the money for solar power I would do it because it is cheaper; not because I think people are spying on me through my electrical wires. It is easier to spy via cell phones (yes, land lines are not the culprit) or internet. But I live a life not worthy of spying upon. Just read my blogs.

But the one area I am "off the grid" is in satellite (or cable) television. In the first days of 2006 we got six feet of snow and the Dish Network satellite dish was knocked off my house. Passes were closed for four days. And similar things had obviously happened to a lot of other dishes because the earliest date they gave me for reinstalling was two weeks out. Maybe. And Dish, in its infinite wisdom was unwilling to give me a half month credit on my bill. Their argument was they were providing me the service. Not their fault I was not receiving it.

It was during that time I found I enjoyed not receiving what passes for entertainment in the United States at huge prices (commercials and service fees). I discovered the joy of internet streaming. What I wanted to watch when I wanted to watch it for no cost to me. No seven channels of ESPN I paid for but never watched. No eleven channels of religious programs I did not believe in but supported through cable fees. And I discovered Canadian, Australian and BBC television that was well written, cast with real people (not plastic barbie dolls) who were great actors and not just boobs.

So I called Dish back and cancelled my subscription with them. I was fortunately beyond the two year contract (BTW that can be five years now). They and DirecTV constantly send me offers to get back on their media teet. But except for one or two programs I can get on streaming or wait a season to get on DVD there is nothing on US television I miss. I certainly do not miss reality shows or the twenty minutes of commercials for every "hour" show.

And I am enjoying the fact that streaming companies like NetFlix and Hulu are now developing their own dramatic television. Well written and well acted. But unfortunately network television and the companies that provide it to us on expensive satellite and cable are still holding the strings on a renewal of some great programs like Longmire. Sorry, Big Five, you are holding everyone hostage.

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