Just recently, I set up the FCC digital converter box that is now required to receive local TV stations. I am one of the 13 percent of the viewers in Rockford that still uses an antenna. (That information comes from the local cable company.) I have never been much of a boob tube watcher anyway, because I have more important things to do with my time. All the mail that I get for cable and satellite service gets shredded. The box was easy to hook up, and it did not take very long to ìscanî for the channels. The reception on my old TV was much better before the FCC sold out the upper channels of the UHF band to cell phone companies. I noticed that the picture on my set often pixilated, creating some grosslooking expressions on the peopleís faces. This FCC move also rendered any radios that picked up TV sound useless now. As usual, there was nothing on except the usual ìentertainmentî for young people, so I turned off the set and unplugged it. At least now I could watch something like a ball game or anything else that was worth my attention.
I was in the Chicago area last week and noticed that they have something over there called ME-TV. There were two channels that broadcast old comedies and dramas. I sat in an easy chair at my sisterís house and watched some delightful programs like Superman and Andy Griffith. There were some old cop shows, too, like Dragnet, 77 Sunset Strip and Perry Mason. Wow! I thought, I could really get into this. These were prime-time shows when I was younger. The plots were good and clean, and the bad guys always got caught. So why donít Rockford stations put on these great shows? They have all these new digital channels. I guess the management of these stations has not heard that the population is getting older now and deserve some better forms of entertainment instead of the usual garbage that dominates local TV night after night. Does anyone watch that junk? ME-TV is also available in Milwaukee and other cities. It represents a time when the media produced some good shows that promoted family values and did not give kids and people crazy ideas. In 1966, former FCC Commissioner Newton
Minnow said, “TV is a vast wasteland.” I did not think so back then, but sure do now. If anyone comes to my house, all they will see on my TV is dust.
John Russell Ghrist
From the Feb. 10-16, 2010 issue