John’s Doyle’s regular column in The Globe and Mail is always an interesting read. Despite my cranky relationship with TV service providers, I genuinely enjoy watching television—well, certain programs anyway. I despise the usurious rates charged by the cable, internet and satellite companies which cost more per month than heat and hydro for my home and rank far lower on the scale of necessary utilities.
Back to my buddy John Doyle, the Globe’s TV critic. We seem to be like-minded in our television tastes and opinions. I don’t like reality shows. I love PBS which fortunately is free. I do enjoy Canada’s basic networks like CBC, Global and CITY but I hate that we can’t live-stream their news programs when we’re visiting in the United States. (I’ve been e-mailing everyone under the sun about this issue for years, to no avail.) I also love HBO, the History Channel and even the Military Channel with its excellent documentaries on World War II. And I’m going to miss Stephen Colbert not being Stephen Colbert any more.
According to Doyle it’s just as well I missed Seth Meyers’ interview with Lena Dunham. I’m a huge fan of Dunham because she’s so (and I hate to use this overworked word) authentic. She’s also incredibly smart, creative and energetic and I’m surprised she didn’t stomp all over Meyers.
In his May 1st column, John Doyle laments the inattention paid by the TV media to white males of a certain age. Do the program decision-makers actually make use of market studies? Why is it that the 18-45 demographic is still targeted as the holy grail. Their market research must date from 1971. Boomers are a much larger slice of the pie and we probably have more money to spend on the drugs, step-in bathtubs, vacations and incontinence products touted by their advertisers. Therefore, we deserve to be catered to and listened to—white males and females, crones, codgers and boomers alike.
Back to my beefs with the cable and satellite sharks. I’ve tried by-passing the service providers by watching via my laptop but that’s not yet a perfect system. A friend gave up on cable years ago and relies on rabbit ears with a fair level of success. But the only way to get HBO and other programs I like is to send Bell Xpressview a gigantic slice of my pension and a pound of my wizened old flesh every month. I’m watching with interest to see what happens with Amazon getting into the movie and TV show rental business.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the current proposal is passed by the government to force service providers to unbundle television channels. Consumers deserve a break and being allowed to pick what programs we are willing to pay for should be a given. Although I’m confident even then they’ll screw us by charging more for what we want. I currently pay about $25.00/month to PVR programs that are on too late at night or that I’m not home to watch. In the U.S., much as I have my list of beefs with Comcast, I can call up any missed program free on channel 1 or 300. I asked Bell about whether they had that option the other day when I was talking to them about another issue and the guy didn’t know what I was talking about. Nothing is free here – not even choice. All I’m asking for is the ability to watch what I want, when I want and to pay accordingly for those choices.
And in closing, John, I feel so validated to think that you share my opinions. Obviously you’re very smart.