Tuesday, December 09, 2008

TV – choice, choice and more choice

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Around the middle of next year, this corner of Scotland is having the analogue TV broadcasting transmitter switched off. Subsequently we will only be able to watch television if we have either digital or satellite receivers.

With ever increasing channels, more entertainment packages, more personalised recording and viewing options, when the switchover happens we are going to be faced with considerably more than the 4 channels we currently have. Indeed, depending on what route we take we could have anything from a dozen to several hundred to chose from every time we sit down in front of the box.

And yet on average we watch only between 1 and 3 programmes a day. Some evenings there’s nothing on at all. So, much more choice should be a good thing, right?

But as a rule, we don’t watch game shows, “reality” shows or soap operas. We don’t watch daytime TV, sport, makeover shows, or even the news very often.

Occasionally we watch the odd drama or documentary, but mostly our television viewing habits consist of one or two comedy programmes, Dr Who, and Rogan and I make time for Top Gear and Heroes. Meg’s a major fan of Strictly Come Dancing, but basically, that’s it.

So what will 600+ new channels offer us, other than more game shows, more reality shows, more soap operas, more daytime TV and many, many, many, more repeats?

Faced with so much choice we’re wondering whether to make one that’s never mentioned: drop it completely.

We can still keep the screen for watching videos and DVDs, but once the digital switchover happens, if we don’t buy/rent/install the appropriate hardware, live TV becomes a thing of the past and we no longer have to pay £139.50 a year for the licence.

Programmes we feel we really, really don’t want to miss could be watched afterwards via the Internet. BBC iPlayer provides almost all of its major programmes for up to a week after they have been broadcast, and the other major channels tend to do the same.

In some ways I can’t believe I’m even considering this. Not have a TV? Does this mean we’ll have to tune the piano and make our own entertainment?

But then again, how about spending our evenings reading, talking, playing games, sitting in front of the fire, having friends round and occasionally watching a DVD?

There’s something awfully tempting about it.

Strange how we never see this option advertised on TV…
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33 comments:

Archivalist said...

Is not having a TV even legal?

My wife and I realized recently that we don't watch any current TV shows anymore. It's only news, sports, and DVDs. It's oddly liberating.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Kim, you should visit us to see how it's done and what happens when that plug is pulled for good. Not having any television has probably resulted in more stress and more petty arguments than I can count. We have to make our own 'entertainment' and suffer from adolescent tantrums, accusations of fraud, cheating and verbal abuse on a regular basis. Don't do it unless you really have to - that's my advice. And don't make my mistake - if you do decide to go ahead - of replacing the television with any board game.

Hope this helps

Joseph

LegalMist said...

I tagged you for a story-writing meme. I hope you'll write something interesting for us. Maybe your family could each take a turn, too, as entertainment -- to practice the whole "not watching tv" thing.

If you're interested in participating, go here for more details and the story's beginning:

http://legalmist.blogspot.com/2008/12/that-damn-expat-tagged-me-for-story.html

Jessie said...

We don't have a tv....we gave it up before we even had children in the mix. the kids do occasionally watch stuff on the computer (dvds mostly), my grandmother is still amazed that we can raise a family without it.

i think you will survive just fine, ....really a life outside of a tv schedule is very freeing.

Mary Witzl said...

We've done this, Kim. We use the internet for watching the occasional comedy show; we read; we write; we listen to music; the kids spat; we go for walks; we play cards. But we're weird: we pulled the plug ages ago and we're certified old fart spoil sports.

Carole said...

John and I had no idea how much there was on TV until Levi, Janice, and Shay came to live with us.

Watch the Discovery channel if you want to see a doctor pull someone's intestines out and repair a bit of a tear and then push them back into the abdomen. Or listen to any and all kinds of music on XM, or watch the Wonder Pets save animals in trouble. See the devastating stories about Hurricane Katrina on the Weather Channel.

No good can come from this kind of information.

However, I've seen a lot of parents substitute the TV for a baysitter, so there is that.

Charlie said...

We haven't watched over-the-air TV for several years. Instead, we buy older programs that are now on DVD in sets when they are on sale. For example, we have watched 6 seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" at our convenience and when we feel like it.

We really liked "Cracker" with Robbie Coltrane, but only a few episodes were released here.

Otherwise, I read, M. makes yummy cheesecakes and loves Sudoko . . .

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Really, if you have a fast enough connection, and aren't opposed the illegality of downloading, there's not a whole lot of need for a subscription based t.v. service. And if you can hook your computer up to your t.v., there's no need for any receiver at all. And if you're happy with the size of the screen, well then there's no need for a t.v. at all. :D

Sayre said...

It's rather amazing... we have satellite TV but I find that we rarely watch TV at all. I have a couple of shows I record which are old, and we have one TV show that we watch as a family. That's it.

But for the weather channel, I think we'd easily forego having television in our house too!

Eryl Shields said...

We got rid of the TV about fifteen years ago. I don't know what we do instead but we don't seem to miss it. We have a projector for watching DVDs and for anything else we might want to watch there's iPlayer or whatever.

Kim Ayres said...

Archivalist - considering we don't buy newspapers either it's a wonder I know anything about the world. Tell me, is Ronald Reagan still a good president?

Dr McCrumble - I think if I had your twins, I probably wouldn't be considering this option...

LegalMist - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment. Being tagged by a lurker is a bit of a surprise so I'll need to go and investigate, but thank you for thinking of me :)

Jessie - I can imagine it would be easier giving it up before, rather than after kids, as the routines are set down more easily and the kids won't miss it.

Mary - your weirdness is why we love you :) Any idea where we can pick up a certificate for being old fart spoil sports?

Carole - while we tried not to make a habit of it, the TV did act as the occasional babysitter when the kids were wee. If it wasn't for the fact they're older now, I might be more hesitant in getting rid of it...

Charlie - all 6 seasons?

I enjoy my sudoku, but I also enjoy Maggie's cheesecake, so she's not allowed to make it except on very special occasions. So I need an excuse to come over and try Martha's :)

FLG - According to what I've been able to find out, if I was to watch programmes on the computer at the same time as they are broadcast, then I must by a TV licence. However, if I watch them 10 minutes after they've been broadcast then I don't.

Sayre - 20 years ago, my dad was one of the first to get satellite TV and I remember then that all we used to do was constantly flick to the next channel looking for something vaguely interesting.

Eryl - 15 years ago Bob must have been into his TV. How did he cope?

debra said...

We are facing the demise of analog TV on this side of the pond as well. We do have a TV that I inherited from my Dad. Here, the government will "give" people a coupon for $40 USD to purchase a converter. Don't quite know how it all works; don't quite care either ...

Conan Drumm said...

If the TV could speak it would say, "It's not me, it's you."



er, the word verif is 'mycaper'...

Kanani said...

More channels just means more junk.

Kate said...

One of the BBC blogs had a discussion about a replacement for the tv licence recently, a subscription package seemed to be the most popular replacement. I'm guessing that the BBC must realise more and more people are going to be following your lead and doing away with not only their tv, but live television too.

LegalMist said...

Sorry to surprise you with a tag from someone you don't know. I am relatively new to the blogging world, so most folks don't know me, and several of the bloggers who do know me had already been tagged. So I branched out a little. I figured if nothing else I could say a quick hello.

I've been "lurking" here off and on (depending on the time I have available for reading blogs) for almost two years, and have checked out some of your other blogs, too. You write well, and I enjoy reading your thoughts about life. I've commented a couple of times before (both anonymously and I think once or twice since I started my LegalMist blog, either here or on one of your other blogs), but I'm not a regular commenter so I am not surprised you don't remember me.

No pressure to participate. I know you have been struggling with fatigue lately, and I know these meme type things can be a pain if you're not in the mood. But I thought it was a fun project for a good storyteller, and I'd love to see what you do with it.

So, if you have the time and energy, write part of a fun fictional story for us. If not, no problem -- thanks for even considering it from someone you don't know at all!

And thanks for stopping by my blog.

Kim Ayres said...

Debra - so do you think you'll convert or just use the TV as a stand for flowers and ornaments?

Conan - yeah, I know. Same excuse is used by the gun lobby - it's not TVs that kill people, but people smashing TVs over someone else's head that kills people

Kanani - that line from Pink Floyd about there being "13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from" is now seriously out of date

Kate - the more people that give it up, the higher the licence fee will have to become to fund the BBC, unless they find another way to finance it.

LegalMist - don't get me wrong - I'm flattered to have a lurker. And I'm a sucker for flattery. At least now I should remember you next time you comment, so long as you don't leave it more than 3 months :)

Eryl Shields said...

He missed 'his programmes' for about a nano second then got to enjoy the amazed reactions of people when he said we didn't have one, and that was that. After about a couple of months he actually said to me: 'you have so many more options when you don't have a TV don't you mummy?'

Kim Williams said...

nice to find another Man Kim.

i have a number of friends who have done w/o TV for some time. none of them seem the worse for it. we watch very little TV. i have one show i plan for, and that with a little American football does it for me.

nice to find you.

karatemom said...

hmmm our weeks leading up to the holidays have been focussed on do we get the 46" or the 52" LCD HD 1080P 120HZ tv.. and do we get it with or without surround sound ?

you have no idea how much time and research we have been doing on this ..hahaha/

The Hangar Queen said...

Do it Kim! Pull the plug and just let it go.Our switchover comes into effect in February and that's the end of it as far as we're concerned.
Between the kids's DVDs and the internet we have all that we need and nothing we don't.

The Hangar Queen said...

Obviously I need to watch even less telly because it should be "kids'"

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - I must admit I haven't mentioned this idea to Rogan yet...

Kim - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment. Another male Kim is an unusual find - especially from the US. When I get a moment I'll pop across to your blog :)

KarateMom - I can understand. We've were busy looking at different satellite options and packages until this thought occured

Hangar Queen - it's true I get most of my info from the net now. This is becoming increasingly tempting as an option

PI said...

One of the children gave us a digital box. We've had our Sony TV for about 15 years and it functions very well. They also gave us a DVD player but we keep forgetting how to work it. I appreciate extra programmes and the odd film I can get on digital and MTL likes the history,and the old Poirot and Bertie Wooster. All my tapes seem to be packing up and I wonder if they are still available?

savannah said...

we're spoiled here...cable tv and a 50"plasma screen with surround sound. i even watch bbc america news and cnn on high def, sugar! and then there's football *sigh* american and european!
xoxoxo

PI said...

Never mind Rogan - how could you think of depriving any little girl of Strictly Come Dancing?

Anonymous said...

One thing that the extra channels DOES give is a voice to the smaller shows who could never hold down a spot on the 4 or so analogue stations. For people who live in their home country with their family and friends around them, TV isn't important at all. But for people in a minority culture an obscure 7 AM broadcast in their own language could be the only news / update / connection they have with their home land.

The best thing about TV is the choice it gives us - not only with stations, but whether or not we choose to leave it turned off!

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - I'd love a 50" plasma screen, although it would be for watching movies rather than general TV

Pat - I think we'd let her watch it on BBC iPlayer

Anonymous - thank you for taking the time to comment, and it's a good point you make. I'm not totally anti-TV, just aware there is so much crap on it most of the time. My wife has always been of the opinion that watching TV is watching other people's lives rather than living our own. It's a distraction from living rather than an enhancement.

If you comment again, please leave a name so I can identify you from other anonymous commenters :)

MikeP said...

I like Dr Who, but the only way I can see it is through the Canadian station on my cable. There are actually a lot of good shows that are on cable only.

As far as abandoning TV goes, so many programs can be watched through internet connections that I don't doubt TV will not have many years left. We will view everything on-line exclusively.

The only difference between digital TV and internet is that you can interact with the internet. When you yell at the TV, only the spouse hears it.

Sandy said...

Kim, I can't agree too much, £139.50 is a new set on mandolin strings and £134.51 change. I'm currently trying to catch one telly program a week (Neil Oliver's rather excellent history of Scotland) and today I watched it on i-player. For myself, I wouldn't buy a telly licence but we do become attached to people that watch the box.
Sandy

Kim Ayres said...

MikeP - there's a lot to be said for being able to join online Forums where you can rant and rage about TV and the state of the world, without anyone other than people with similar views have to read/listen to it :)

Sandy - I think mandolin strings could well become the new currency given the general colapse of Sterling at the moment

freakazojd said...

We don't have cable or satellite and the channels we get are all analog, so when (and it's not "if", it's just a matter of when) Canada decides to ditch the analog in favour of digital only, we'll be off the tele completely, because we WON'T be signing up for anything else. Talk about trying to force the hand of the consumer. Wonder how many they'll lose altogether though? I say ditch it. As many others have said, so much is available via the www these days, and many tv programs are available on dvd. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Freakazojd - this is appearing to be a far more popular option than I'd realised!