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Memo from ABC: Pay someone, anyone, just pay

On Youtube, Smiley (Alec Guinnes) tries to lure Karla (Patrick Stewart) to the West. Programming like this is found throughout the Internet Tubes.
On Youtube, Smiley (Alec Guinnes) tries to lure Karla (Patrick Stewart) to the West. Programming like this is found throughout the Internet Tubes.

For we adventurous types who roll with over-the-air television (OTA) broadcasts, the corporate noose just gets tighter and tighter. For several years, OTAers were able to catch up on recently missed shows right on the network website. We could stream them over our computer. Sure, we put up with the ads, but it does take money to make and broadcast these programs. No gripes there.

But now, networks like ABC are going to allow us to watch a free OTA show via the Internet Tubes only if we subscribe to some cable or satellite TV service, which most of us agree are way overpriced, considering much of pure drivel they shovel at us.

I can remember a time when all of television was free.

Can you imagine that?


We let them use the public airwaves, and they send us programs. For Free! What a deal. We even got to watch the dancing cigarette packs and physicians sell us lung cancer to pay the bills back at network headquarters. Life was good.

Now we have to pay to get the stuff AND watch booze ads (once banned). No dancing coffin nail packs yet. Dope spots are probably just around the corner in Colorado.

But there is some free TV, if you have fast Internet Tubes. I am referring to websites like Couchtuner TV where the Russians and other scofflaws post current programs under the “sharing” concept. Or you can zero in on many TV shows and movies, old and new, at sites like Youtube,, and others.

You will miss, however, the same tired old joke told for the fortieth time in yet another new “smash hit” in the network's prime time comedy lineup, but you will run across some fine old stories. Film noir. SciFi. Westerns. Those TV shows you grew up with. Maybe your kids will like them – a good break from some thumb twitch game. They actually were good.

So we OTAers just going to have to hang tough and run home to catch the program at its appointed time – just like the old days. At least we do not have to get up off our butts to change the channel.

The gear to record shows is a little more pricey these days, but we could go for that to provide a little bit of viewing flexibility for those of us who are not into paying two hundred bucks a month to the cable and satellite snots. And there is Netflix, at eight bucks a month, until the networks swallow that up too.

As we get older or lose our jobs and cash flow gets choked off, the networks and cable and satellites are just squeezing us harder and harder, demanding more and more and more from us. But hey, that's life in the Early 21st Century, right?

Stock market's up. For someone.

Meantime, I am watching The Americans on Couchtuner TV and enjoying it.


When Denver writer Richard J. Schneider is not scouring the airwaves and the Internet Tubes for free TV, he writes a mystery novel series featuring a Colorado Baby Boomer who has returned to investigative journalism after a 25 year break. His latest book is WATER: A Vic Bengston Ingestigation.

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