Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pulling the Plug on Cable Television

When we moved to a remote island near the Aleutians in 2001, we gave up cable. Although the island was wired for cable, the house we rented was not. Even going through 9/11 and the Columbia shuttle explosion--which was hard because one of the astronauts and I were in the same company at the boat school and company-mates are like family--did not convince us we were missing anything. We still had Internet! When we moved to Minnesota in 2003, we chose not to have cable installed and did the same for the house we rented in Carolina.

We changed our mind when we bought a house here in Carolina and two years of the programmed drivel offered by cable, satellite, etc. is not worth what we pay per month. We realized that less is more when it comes to channels because we end up doing the same thing every night: watching Fox News and then reruns of Monk or King of the Hill, which are both in their last season. The last straw was when BBC America pulled reruns of Top Gear (which I find funny even though I am not a motorhead).

I think we have way too much legislation on the books and I do not favor regulations that require a la carte choices for cable or satellite subscribers. I would rather the marketplace drive this, and we are voting for a la carte with our feet. When the cable representative asked me if they could do anything to win us back, I told him flatly, "If you have a list of people interested in a la carte choices, put us on that. You can call back when that option is available." The guy laughed, as did I. But, the idea is not as crazy as you think, for others have done the same.

Believe it or not, Steve and David are both all for it, but we expected the hard customer to be Pamela who delights in flipping through channels, changing the colors on the guide, and watching everything from the shopping networks to the weather channel. We made this decision about two months ago, and I had no idea how to broach the subject. Occasionally, I would lightly tell her things like "I don't like cable" or "I don't need cable anymore." Occasionally, I would tell her we were taking a break for a few hours and we turned off the DVR completely. We halted our campaign over Easter because Steve's parents were in town, and we knew having something to watch at night would put them at ease. Steve reminded me to renew the anti-cable campaign last week, and I was struggling to find a way to become unplugged.

Pamela must have overheard our conversations and came up to me last Friday with a most startling question, "What will we get rid of?" I lightly said, "Cable television!" Without blinking an eye, she said, "Yes!" She asked me about it off and on over the weekend, and today I finally made the call. Tomorrow, we return the box and it is finished. Between the library, Netflix, and our own collection of DVDs, we will have plenty to watch in the evenings. Or, we will read books, do our hobbies, use the computer, or enjoy the silence . . .
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)

9 comments:

jennifer said...

Congrats to your family, and especially to Pamela on her ability to handle this change!

Penny said...

I've been thinking about making a move like that, too. Sports -- that's what holds me back. We do like to watch sports. And Discovery Channel.

I've blocked some programs and one entire channel that are drivel

A la carte would be wonderful.

You're a great role model, Tammy!

The Glasers said...

Jennifer and Penny, it is as not as difficult because we have one advantage: Pamela has a positive episodic memory of life without programmed television and she can go online and order a DVD from Netflix. In fact, to prepare for the big move, Pamela asked me to buy Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide e! LOL!

Penny, I just get burned up that we are paying so much for so little when we evaluate how much we watch programmed television.

Jennie said...

Good for you! We haven't had cable at all in our marriage (6 years almost) and I am so glad. We do christian cinema (like a Christian version of Netflix) and we like it. I must say I do miss the Food network but I do feel like TV is a guilty pleasure I can't afford lately...

Niffercoo said...

Sports are what stops us as well. We are avid baseball and Nascar fans! You have to subscribe to watch them online, and then it's a little screen for all of us to watch. I don't watch any TV programs anymore.

It's ridiculous how much we pay for it! I wish a la carte were available. We have to pay for a whole higher 'tier' just to get all of our Braves games!

poohder said...

welcome to the 20% of us in the US who are unplugged. Rhonda

tiffrutherf said...

Good for you! My husband is a Fox New junkie and boy sometimes I just want to rip the TV out of the wall. Thanks to TV I am scared to send my kids out side to play as you hear about every little bad thing that happens in the world when you tune in...Maybe I'll follow your lead and cut out T.V. a couple of night a week!

The Glasers said...

Jenn, it is too bad we can't have a la carte, but then the cable companies would make less money . . .

Tiffrutherf, I am getting my news fix but getting what I can off the Internet and radio . . .

JamBerry said...

We only got/have cable because by the time we paid for high speed internet, cable wasn't that much more to add on. I'd much rather have a la carte too, though. So much crud on tv. And the family (including Sly) is constantly commenting that the commercials are far worse than the tv shows. You might be watching a family friendly tv show, only to be subjected to terribly inappropriate commercials. I must say though, seeing those commercials helps me decide where to NOT spend my money.