How is one to obtain a good selection of television broadcasts from which to choose? I mean, we still have over the air (OTA) channels, which are very close to what we had way back in the 1950's, but with a lot more available today than was out there back then. As a matter of fact, where before we had, say, channel 4, we now have 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3, all with different programming, and all virtually free.
We also have cable and satellite providers, who offer many more channels, most of which hold little or no interest for most people. Way back when satellite television first became popular customers could pick and choose what satellite channels they wanted to receive, called a Cafeteria Plan. That excellent idea did not last very long, once the providers figured out that they could force people to pay for garbage in order to receive quality.
One reason for the growth of cable and satellite television has to do with the fact that television signals are transmitted by a system that requires a clear line of sight between the transmitter's antenna, and the receiver's antenna. Interestingly, with the advent of digital signals, that clear line of sight can be obstructed in high wind conditions. Yes, even dust and moving tree branches can block your signal! The farther from the transmitter you live, the worse your signal will be. So, the growth was due to more than the fact that you can get a shit ton of channels with cable or satellite.
People who live far from the transmitters' antennae, like me, need to have a rooftop antenna, with a pretty high mast in order to receive their local channels. I happen to be located about 35 miles, as the crow flies, from our local antennae, up on the Franklin Mountains. So, even though on a clear day I get a lot of stations, with a great image, the slightest weather condition causes my signal to instantly drop, and I have to get up and adjust the indoor antenna, just like when I was a kid! Unfortunately, my research tells me that I would still be subject to loss of signal with weather changes even if I had a 30 foot antenna!
So, I have been looking around for ways to get just the channels that I might watch, which pretty much means that I know I could exist just fine with only those local channels. I must confess that I am thinking in terms of the upcoming football season, and the fact that I would like to watch college and professional games. So, what is one to do?
In addition to the cable and satellite packages that are offered for a hefty chunk of change, there are now several streaming services available, and most of them advertise a lower price than cable or satellite. Unfortunately, they do not offer local channels' live stream.
Now, we come to my greatest frustration. The best price out there, for me, appears to be a plan offered by Spectrum (used to be Time Warner, now sucked up by the giant monopoly that is AT&T) that provides only ten cable channels of your choice (the plan is called TV Choice, coincidentally), plus your local channels. It is advertised at only $24.99 per month, which is not great, but I might be able to handle it. However, when I went online to seek more information, I learned that this price does not include my local channels!
No, if I want them I have to pay an additional five dollars per month, bringing my total up to at least $29.99. When I asked why this additional charge for OTA signals, I was told that this is required by those local stations! Now, consider this. The cable provider is extending the service area for these local television stations, which already make money from their local advertisers, right? But, in their greed, the local TV stations want more! They want me to pay them to watch what they are supposed to be offering for no cost! How is this fair? How is this good business?
I am still having trouble understanding something about this, however. I am sure that the precedent was set some time ago, but it is confusing to me to consider that a local broadcast station can demand payment from a cable or satellite or streaming provider for extending the range of their broadcasts! Wouldn't that be a good selling point for their advertising? "We can offer X number of local viewers, which is enhanced by X number of additional local and nearby viewers who are watching us on cable or satellite or streaming device."
Am I wrong? Ultimately, for me, I suspect I will go with something like this TV Choice, but I will go reluctantly. I'm thinking that perhaps one of my cable type channels could be the NFL Network, and another could be ESPN (as much as I hate them), and that way I could receive more stable options for live football action.