Thursday, January 11, 2007

Turned off

It's time to stop feeling guilty, even though a little sadness comes with it.

I'm talking about -- of course -- cable television.

I have had the typical package on my system for the past 14-plus years. It has about 70 channels, of which I watch about 20 even once in a while. I also get Home Box Office.

Here's the catch: I've been receiving the Encore Movie Channel on my television for all of that time, and then some. In fact, I think it was in the apartment before I moved into my current house. Not only that, but I've been getting the Movie Channel for years and years without paying for it, either. The two premium channels were moved to digital tiers long ago, but for some reason the cable company couldn't, or didn't, make the switch on my personal system.

In hindsight, Encore was pretty worthless. I went months and months without watching anything on it. The Movie Channel was a little better. Sometimes it would show movies that had debuted on Showtime. In fact, I think I taped "Hotel Rwanda" shortly before I lost the channel. But HBO and Starz seem to get many of the best movies, so there wasn't much left for Showtime/TMC.

I felt a little guilty for getting something for essentially nothing, although I can't say I felt/feel undercharged for cable. Still, it's not like I did anything. The cable company was the one making the mistake, while I merely turned on the television. There were some interesting ethical questions connected with that sort of situation. I'm someone who has pointed out mistakes in my favor on restaurant bills, arguing that I'd be upset if the mistake went the other way, but I didn't do anything here. Hmmm.

I've looked at digital cable packages at the past, which won't affect my price much, but always figured I'd lose the free movie channels if I switched. Now, with that part of the matter settled, I guess I'll see if I'll bother getting a package highlighted by the Game Show Network. (I'm serious here; I like game shows.)

More likely, I'll do nothing and visit Blockbuster. I'm sure they'll look forward to my increased business -- from two rentals a year to four.

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