Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, Nov. 18

Letter to the Editor: Advanced state of the art rip off

I recall being able to watch television with a selection of perhaps a dozen channels or so and my only cost was the television set, a VHF/UHF antenna and the electricity to power the unit.

Then a cable company came along and informed us we could watch movies without commercials if we were willing to pay for the cable service and of course the cost of the movie channel. Actually that was not exactly true because we had to purchase a package of the channels, even if we were only interested in one channel. Also, we had to pay for the cable set top box and the remote control.

We had moved into the modern age from free television to pay-to-view television. We received a small bonus in that the commercial television that was previously free now had more commercials per viewing hour. Skipping ahead a bit, now we are afforded the opportunity to receive our television by way of subscription satellite dish with even more channels. Again, we must pay to watch television, pay for the set top box and remote control, plus we can record, most of the time, one program while watching another. A VCR accomplished that very nicely with a little additional effort. We also receive longer commercial messages and the movie channel selection has more packages with even more channels we have no interest in, but you have to purchase the package in all, even if you are only interested in one channel.

More advances allow us to view the pay-to-view broadcast program on large flat screen panels, which we are told enhances our viewing. Yes, it has enhanced the picture so much so that it took on the magical appearance of High Definition. I say magical because when I hear people say how much better High Definition viewing is over the regular view, I believe it must be magic that they actually can see it. Along with this the broadcasters now use upwards of 15 percent of my viewing screen to super impose even more commercials on my screen while I am trying to watch a program I paid to view. I realize the Federal Trade Commission allows them to, from time to time, superimpose station identification on the screen, however I do not recall agreeing to allow them to put anything other than an emergency warning at the bottom the screen and I did not agree to have the programming I paid for to be covered by icons, advertisements or other such superimposing images on the screen I am trying to view.

When one considers not only the extremely lengthily commercial breaks, some as long as eight minutes and partially covering the viewing screen with even more messages, I feel I am being charged about 75 percent more than I should be charged. It turns out these so-called technology advances are advances in methods of increasing profits for everyone from the production company to the sponsors and the system delivery companies. These advances have in no way improved my viewing pleasure.

Many channels broadcast programming which is of no social value and in some cases are insulting and socially unacceptable. Yet the FCC, asleep at the wheel, continues to allow these programs to air. Keep in mind, this is a pay-to-view service! The cost of viewing the broadcasts is outrageous in itself, but the actual service it very poor as well. These new technologies are fraught with flaws. The equipment is inferior because the cost to properly engineer the units and providing them with the needed components would reduce the makers and providers profits. The aforementioned technologies have not made life better for the consumer, but have increased the stress levels, especially when attempting to contact customer support.

Except for the instances of real life-threatening emergencies, the same can be said for the cellular phone. These new technologies have changed our lives, now we try to find which is the least of the worst and hopefully least expensive, because the quality is no longer there.

Try to imagine, if your appliances or our automobiles had the same reliability as our broadcasting and cellular service? The corporations and government agencies supporting these technologies continue to hope we will go quietly into the night - but pay your subscriber fee before you go.

John Russell


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