People like to complain about cable TV. It is expensive and the service is often poor. In the early days of cable it was even worse.
In the early days of cable TV you did not have a choice in where you got your service. There was no satellite TV, there were no competing cable companies. There was one company licensed for your area. You got 40 channels and had to pay extra for ESPN and HBO. HBO had one channel showing about 10 new movies a month. There was no ESPN 2. There was an extra monthly charge for every TV hook-up in the house.
The extra hook-up charge was more than I could handle. In those days you did not need their cable box if you had a cable ready TV. All the new TV’s were cable ready and gave you the same 40 channels the cable box gave you. The cable company charged $3.50 a month for each hook-up in your house.
This charge was a rip off. I figured I paid for the signal into my house, what I did with it was my business. With this philosophy I managed to override my usual law-abiding “do the right thing” instincts.
Cable wire was cheap. Splitters were cheap. Labor (me) was cheap. I wired my house for three additional hook-ups for about $20 and saved myself $10.50 a month. The only issue I had was after about three weeks CBS and NBC did not give a clear picture. These channels came in fuzzy and the color tended to be a bit blurry. For $10.50 a month I could endure poor reception on the two predominant stations in the country. There were 38 other channels including HBO, I was still in TV heaven from four different rooms in the house.
About one year after my DIY wiring I received a call from the cable company.
“This is Mr. Jones from the cable company. Our maintenance checks have determined there is a problem with your service…have you noticed any signal weakness?”
“Oh shit,” I thought to myself. These guys have a way to determine I have extra hook-ups. If they come in and spot my handy work they are going to charge me $10.50 times the 14 months I have had the hook-ups plus penalties and probably threaten me with theft of service.
“Ah…no, my service is perfect, no need for you to come and check anything. Really, I’m good.”
“Hmmm, well that is surprising sir because we are detecting issues. We will have to come out and check. Would Tuesday be OK?”
“Er…ah, well there is no need to come and check, my service is just fine.”
“Well Mr. Hagy, we do have to check it out, FCC rules you know.”
“FCC rules, what do they care?”
“Well believe it or not, if there is signal leakage it can interfere with instruments of airplanes passing overhead, so we will have to come out and check your entire system.”
“Ok…ah…sure…airplanes…really…I guess Tuesday would be alright.”
What a crock of crap! Signal leakage effecting airplanes overhead. These guys have somehow detected that I have been using multiple hook-ups and they want their pound of flesh.
Damn…500+ words…going to be a two part post. Come back tomorrow for
Part Two – CABLE SMABLE