I’m one of those people who don’t subscribe to cable television. I can’t afford it lately, and even if I could afford the expense I wouldn’t take it on. I’m impatient at cable television when I’ve encountered it: there’s so much noise, and so little content of interest, to me at least. To compensate for low volumes of information, for-profit documentary channels stretch their delivery beyond my capacity for patience.
I have enjoyed PBS, though. My kids get a cackle from Word Girl, NOVA programs can be really informative, Frontline gets me upset and more than occasionally delivers new reporting, and my daughter picks up phonics from Between the Lions. Or picked up, rather. Past tense. As of today, there’s no analog signal for PBS TV in my home. And no matter how I fiddle with the positioning of my antenna, there’s no digital signal for PBS either.
I live right smack dab in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio, the 15th most populous city in the nation (right below San Francisco), so this is not a problem of rural living. It’s not that I’ve hooked up my digital converter equipment incorrectly; I get clear digital reception of NBC (boring), CBS (boringer) and FOX (ack). When I tried to get digital PBS reception last year and failed, visitors reassured me that when the analog signal was cut, digital broadcasting power would be boosted. No dice. What’s happened is the disappearance of good PBS television from central Columbus. This “improvement” isn’t an improvement at all from where I’m planted; a public good is gone. What makes this an advance? My government tells me:
An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum… some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).
Now I get it. It’s an “improvement” for the telecoms. Forward!