We pulled the plug on cable TV 16 years ago and have never regretted it. Our younger son was at an age when we feared he would be lured into watching too much TV, and I was wasting too much time with my eyeballs glued to baseball games.
We spent about $75 on an old-fashioned antenna (shown above) and asked a friend to put it on our roof and hook it up. About five years ago, when TV went digital, we got a converter box and now get perfect pictures on four PBS stations, plus ABC, CBS, Fox and some junky movie channels.
We save between $500 and $1,400 a year on payments to cable companies or other providers. We don’t participate in a system in which companies have local monopolies, raise prices regularly, and don’t give customers much choice of what services they want. I’m not vulnerable to the mindless shifting between 100 stations, and Fox News can’t enter our home!
I was a serious commercial TV addict from age 10 to 15, and then stopped abruptly and never resumed the habit. I have never seen an episode of “Seinfeld,” “MASH,” “The Cosby Show” or any other commercial program that has taken root in popular culture. On the other hand, we have been fans of PBS, especially British shows, most recently “Call the Midwife” and “Downton Abbey.” We get a lot of videos from our local library.
We rarely watch anything on ABC or CBS other than news and weather, though I still watch baseball games on Fox between five and 20 times a year (depending on how the Red Sox are doing). Avoiding TV commercials is a great way to separate oneself from consumer culture.
I’m sure there are some things we miss out on (such as the current “Years of Living Dangerously”) but we believe there’s far more dreck that we are not tempted by. Today, with Netflix and computers, I know lots of people who have said “No thanks” to the cable companies and still have a wide variety of video material to choose from.
Opting out of “100 channels and nothing on” is part of our simple living lifestyle, in terms of saving money, spending our time on more creative pursuits, and not exposing ourselves to constant sales pitches.