Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dodged a bullet on that one!

While my sister and her family were visit-a-tating Rancho Yesteryear over the holidays, WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, started televising a “crawl” at the bottom of the screen warning Charter Cable subscribers that come January 1, 2014, they might not see WSB or digital subchannel Me-TV on their system…and they were nice enough to provide Charter’s toll-free number so that we could call them and let them know we’d like to keep WSB and Me-TV.

I’m not going to lie to you.  The very notion of losing one of the few stations I watch (that would be Me-TV) made me panicky at first…but instead of throwing a big stinky fit, I carefully reasoned that I have enough classic TV-on-DVD in the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives to help me weather the ensuing storm.  So my Concern-o-Meter was registering low numbers…but what really brought on unbridled joy was the idea that my father would be forced to go through a bout of local news withdrawal.

Yes, I know you think I’m being a meanie.  Honestly, I’m not a cruel man…at least, I don’t think I am.  Being denied access to WSB would be tough love for Dad.  The man watches—by my calculations—an estimated three-and-a-half hours of WSB news on the weekdays.  He watches the noon telecast, then switches over to Channel 2 at 4 and watches more news for two hours until Mom calls him in for dinner.  He’ll bolt dinner in roughly the same amount of time it takes a pit crew to change a tire during a NASCAR race, and then get to the TV set to finish the news at 6:30…he’d watch until 7, but he likes to listen to Brian Williams’ nightly pronouncements at that time.  He’s not a casual news watcher—he’s a junkie with a serious habit.

I’ve talked about my Dad’s news obsession on the blog in the past…and in all honesty, it’s probably petty of me to endlessly mock the subject—but I’m powerless to resist.  Local news is the worst.  If they’re not clogging the airwaves with mindless stories of stabbings, shootings, car crashes, water main breaks or fires, they’re pandering to the lowest common denominator exploiting children who are missing or have life-threatening diseases.  (I have compassion for these kids, I really do—I just get nauseated at the freak show the local news people make of their day-to-day existence.)  It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just one hour out of the day…but when he’s finished watching at noon, he returns to it at four—and the news has not changed one iota.  “Dad,” says I, “the reason the stories repeat is because no one is supposed to sit down and watch three hours of this stuff—the actual tolerance level has been measured at twenty minutes, tops.”

When my father is not watching WSB…he’s watching MSNBC.  We can debate the merits or demerits of this cable talk fest at a later date (or if you’re in tune with any of my right-leaning friends on Facebook, the debate pretty much goes on all the time) but I’m positively flummoxed as to how someone can sit there hour after hour after hour listening to same tired political talking points being regurgitated constantly.  The script never changes—only the talking heads do.

So with the news that Charter pulled the plug on WSB last night at midnight—right in the middle of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, too, which I also found hilarious—I was actually anticipating the thrill of watching dear ol’ Dad go through severe withdrawal from not being able to watch Channel 2’s news.  I had Me-TV on in the back bedroom earlier today, and all that was on it was a ticker from Charter announcing how disgusted it was that WSB was demanding a higher fee to allow the system to continue to carry the station.  (Maybe I’m talking out of turn here…but if anyone should refrain from lecturing about charging higher fees, it’s Charter.)  Well, around 1:30pm Me-TV was restored to Charter’s graces (right in the middle of a Gunsmoke rerun I had already seen) and WSB came back shortly after, meaning sanity has now been restored to the House of Yesteryear.  (If I were a betting man, I’d gamble that today’s Capital One Bowl game—Wisconsin squaring off with the South Carolina Gamecocks—brought both parties to the negotiating table quicker than expected.)

Well. It was nice while it lasted.  Tonight, I will drift off into dreams of a local news-free household, and life will be good.


ClassicBecky said...

Poor Dad -- your glee at his forced withdrawal is hilarious! I don't understand how anyone can watch news that much. I get really depressed and swear off it every other day, it seems. Thank the TV gods that you got Me-TV back -- I don't think you could withstand the loss without a serious mental breakdown.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

I don't understand how anyone can watch news that much.

Here's what's so hilarious about this...deep down, I think my father realizes he needs help, so he'll hand my mother the remote and suggest that she find something to watch. But she always refuses. (Note that he does not give me the option.)

And yet, she'll complain to me: "He's got that goddamn news on again!" Me: "Well, he offered you the remote - why didn't you grab it?" And this scenario plays out every day - it's as ritualized as Kabuki theater.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I have to say we have been pretty lucky with Charter here. They've never had a carriage dispute with any of the local stations. I'm thankful for that, as I would really miss ME-TV. And while I'm not addicted to local news as your father is, I would miss it if I lost KOMU or KRCG.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

I have to say we have been pretty lucky with Charter here. They've never had a carriage dispute with any of the local stations. I'm thankful for that, as I would really miss ME-TV.

I was honestly surprised at how fast this got resolved, because I have read of other instances and other systems where they're still trying to reach agreements. I was ready some of the comments on a few of the sites reporting this story and was amused by the large number of people defending Charter, whom I have long considered weasels wearing business suits.

JavaBeanRush said...

Sounds like cabin fever. Thanks for the laugh. :)