I wanted to watch Meet the Press yesterday morning, so I went to put on channel ten, the station number for NBC for the 57+ years I've known it.To my surprise, there was no NBC on channel ten. There was a shopping channel.
I used my digital menu to check and the next channel up showed call letters for a local station that looked vaguely familiar. Imagine, after 50+ years, they'd failed to effectively brand the connection between NBC and WCAU or channel ten. I was extra confused because the station was not playing Meet the Press. They were showing a tennis tournament instead. If I didn't have sports A.D.D., I'd know which tournament. It's a major one.
The reason I was a bit confused is because Comcast recently moved the local Philly area stations to new numbers on the dial. Instead of being 3, 6 and 10, their non-cable station settings, where they've been on cable forever, they now have new numbers. WTF?
I've always thought of the local NBC station as channel ten, not WCAU, since I've been watching it for over 50 years. But when I went to watch my usual sunday MTP, there was no MTP on channel 10. There was QVC.
Suddenly, WCAU was on 11. Checking out the other main network channels made it clear that Comcast had shuffled them all.
Is comcast trying to hurt these network stations? Or maybe I should ask WHY? Not that the mainstream, corpstream networks, which produce mostly garbage, fluff and propaganda are so deserving of sympathy, but it makes no sense to confuse viewers by changing the numbers representing media that have used the same channel numbers for scores of years.Here in Philly 3 and 10 have been switched from network stations to shopping channels and 6 is not Cspan. This may make sense commercially, for some nickel and diming pencil pusher at Comcast, but it is not good for the media, not good for consumers and, since the media is the fourth estate and necessary to support democracy, it's not good for America.
I sent out a newsletter asking some readers, "Have you seen the same thing in your metro area?"
Shari replied, "YES - We have Comcast Bay Area (Los Altos Hills, CA - down the peninsula from San Francisco) and they have switched the channels around so much, that you can only find the right program by entering it in TIVO by name. VERY frustrating."
She also reports that her remote controls don't work with the comcast gear. You know what that does? It forces people to rent more Comcast equipment-- remotes, digital boxes-- which can easily add up to more than $50 a month for a family with three TVs.
Switching to a station for entertainment becomes a reflex. If the reflex doesn't work, we fumble a bit. For eight years, part of the Bush-Cheney GOP plan was to either take over and propagandize the media or to marginalize it, to turn people off by making them not trust or respect it.
The mainstream media helped the administration by prostituting their content in such obvious ways, well, now the media is less trusted, less respected. And then there are newspapers. They are going to die. The digital generation of under 30s don't read papers. That leaves TV, Radio and Web news.
When you want to wipe out something as big as network TV, or a big idea, you don't attack it head on, or in addition to attacking it head on, you also whittle away at it, attacking small parts. Recently, a holocaust denial article came to our site. It didn't argue that the holocaust didn't happen, only that gas chambers didn't happen. This is the way that big ideas, big truths are attacked. They are attacked around the edges and marginalized.
So, is that what's happening with the big networks? Comcast charges premiums for accessing some news channels. They can't charge for the networks. But if the demand became less and less and even, if the networks became less and less viable, comcast would have consumers in a barrel, forced to pay for news. Some would do it. Some wouldn't bother. There ought to be a low. News channels that cover issues related to government, to consumers and issues related to consumers should never require additional fees. That would still allow fees for business news, sports, entertainment, fashion, etc.