It’s been a nice experience, overall. You know, there were the normal fights to get a signal and small compromises (few channels). Once I got an external antenna, however, things really turned around. I was able to pull in every expected signal from the region and a few of the less likely ones, too. Most were local network stations, but almost all had an alternative channel that played good movies and classic TV shows. Plus, I had something like 7 channels of PBS. I could almost always find something to watch at nearly any time of day.
Then, one day this summer, things changed. A line of powerful, potentially tornado spawning thunderstorms moved through the area one afternoon. Suddenly, nearly half my channels disappeared like someone had flipped a switch… or a transmitter had been hit by a lightening strike. As the days went on and the signal didn’t appear, I spent a lot of time and endured a lot of frustration trying to dial the signals back in. As summer turned to fall, we just became numb to the inconvenience.
Two weeks ago, the missing channels suddenly reappeared. Signals, which had barely registered strengths in the teens, suddenly shot up into 80 to 90% range. It made absolutely no sense. I began to suspect that my equipment was faulty, but then I spoke with some other people in the area who were experiencing a similar problem. “Damn it, they’re onto us boys, no more free lunch… them cable companies be jamming our signals,” I joked in my worst pirate/30s gangster/dust bowl migrant worker accent.
But what if it’s not such a joke after all?
The abrupt loss and return of the signals seems suspicious. Two of the big cable providers are in serious competition with one expanding the area and the other launching a low ball pricing campaign, each hoping to grow market share in an industry losing customers daily. What if one of them decided to somehow interrupt the transmission of an alternative to their product? Could it be done? I have no idea. Seems like one of them there achievable sci-fi realities, though. Could there be an “agreement” between a cable provider and local networks to reduce transmission power? Perhaps for a modest pile of money? Could the FCC be looking the other way in order to help save a declining media cash cow?
I don’t know… seems kind of too evil, even for corporate ‘Murica. But stranger things have happened and they are pretty evil, them corporations.
Oh, and one other thing… Nearly half of my stations disappeared again last night…