When I was growing up, we had 2, then 3 channels, reception wasn't good because of the hills, till they built a new transmitter. We never watched anything on ITV. And it was black and white telly till the early 70s. But that was too much entertainment compared to my wife, who didn't have a telly till she was 12. Even now her parents only get 3 French channels, the rest of them are Swiss. Because of the hills, natch
Recently, of course, we've had Freeview
digital, and have grown used to the 5 standard channels, plus BBCs 3 and 4 - I've even watched the occasional rock-or-country-umentary on BBC4. And then there's the godsend of CBeebies
: advert free fodder for the kids, for that half hour of peace and quiet that you need.
I still don't watch anything on ITV. I rarely watch anything on BBC1. The occasional dose of BBC2. Channel 4 I used to watch a lot of, pre-Big Brother, but mostly it's wall-to-wall reality TV, house buying programmes and documentaries about fat people with mental illness; so I don't watch much on Channel 4 now, give or take The O.C.
Channel 5, of course, is the new Channel 4, and CSI in various flavours is good stuff.
So it was with some dismay that I discovered, on plugging the TV into the wall in Buckingham, that we not only can't get Freeview digital, but we only get Channels 1,2, and 3 - with pretty poor reception. No Channel 4 (no Kelly Rowan
! Help!); no Channel 5 (no Marg!
Domage!). And, of course, no CBeebies (Noooooooooooooooooooo!).
I plugged in a signal booster and got Channel 4 - but I'd swap 1, 2, and 3 to get 5.
So it looks like the only choice is Sky Digital, which is objectionable for all kinds of reasons. Rupert Murdoch, for example, was at least indirectly responsible for the closure of the major printing works in my home town of Dumpstable. Which meant redundancy and early retirement for both my mum and dad. Plus, any profits made by News Corporation go directly towards influencing politicians to adopt policies which go against my moral beliefs.
I'm a snob (still don't watch ITV, remember), so having a satellite dish outside the house is the equivalent to me of reading the Sun, or worse, The Times. But let's not be precious: a hell of a lot of my favourite shows are from the Fox network, so it's all a big wash, and I'm compromised before I begin to hold principles.
Fact is, I'd install a dish in an instant in order not to miss my favourite shows, but we can't afford it right now - what with moving house before we've sold our house, and all the other additional expenditures. But the really annoying thing about Sky is that it's so full of crap. I have to say, the multitude of frankly pointless television channels frightens me, and I resent the idea that even one penny of a monthly subscription would go to support any of them. I'm talking about the lifestyle channels, the repeat channels, the documentary repeat channels, the lifestyle repeat channels, the repeat repeat channels, the comedy repeat channels, the bad sci fi repeat channels, the music channels... oh god.
See, in my heart, and this is my point, it's still 1972. It's Olympic Games time, and you get Dr Who on a Saturday Tea time, a choice of 3 channels, with not much on worth watching. The world hasn't changed much, there's still the same amount of stuff that's worth watching, only now it's spread over around 10 channels, which themselves are surrounded by another 300 or so channels of stuff that is never and has never been worth watching. And I mean poking your eyes out and slowly bleeding to death is preferable.