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Fall season just not the same with monopolies running the show By Stephen Schleicher
Throughout time, the fall season has always been one people could look forward too as a time of happiness and celebration. Not because of the harvest and plenty of food to last the hard winter, nor the pretty colors and crisp clean morning air. It isnt even all the Halloween candy, or the fact that the start of the fall season marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping rush. The best thing about fall is the new television season.

It is a time to see what new stuff the networks have to offer to occupy the dull moments of our day. It also allows the viewer to discover which shows are better left unwatched and how much more time they will have to read or spend with their families. If you are a fan of a particular show, the Fall Season is kind of like getting reacquainted with an old friend after not having seen them for months.

Tuesday nights used to be a joyous occasion for me. I would come home sit back and enjoy the demon slayings and wise cracks from watching one of my favorite shows on network television. My Tuesdays are no longer a joyous occasion

If you have been following my columns for some time, you know I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While some may rank it in the same category as Dawsons Creek (shudder) or (gasp!) 90210, it really has some of the best writing, directing, editing, and special effects on television today. In an odd programming twist the WB network sold this popular show to UPN at the end of last season causing many people to have to shift their channel watching habits. Luckily WB has kept Angel (a Buffy spin-off), so I can still watch Charisma Carpenter do her thang.

I also am a bit of a Star Trek fan. The latest addition to the Trek universe is a brand new series called Enterprise, which looks very promising. With the fall television season underway, I have now missed both season premieres of these shows, because of the local Monopoly.

In this mid-sized Western Kansas town of 20,000+ people, one company controls the radio and television outlets. If you want cable television, you have to deal with the Monopoly. I know the response from many would be to tell me to get DirecTV or the Dish Network. They dont carry UPN either, and to add additional stations to your subscription (like Fox affiliate KTLA out of Los Angeles, or even a WB or Cartoon Network) will put your monthly bill somewhere in the neighborhood of $80.00. Even for a dot-com billionaire, that is asking a bit much.

Thats the way it has always been
When I called the local Monopoly to inquire about the possibility of adding a UPN affiliate to the local cable line up, I was told to write a letter and include it with my next payment. Apparently this company has time to read every comment or letter written by the customer while they are rolling around in all our money.

When I asked how seriously the Monopoly would consider my request, the person on the other end of the line stated, "We have been getting a lot of letters and requests asking us to add that particular station, and weve had it available to add for about a year and a half now"

"And?" I asked, growing impatient.

"We are in the middle of rebuilding the cable network for your city, but we dont know when that will be complete. We cant add new stations until that is done."

Apparently the Monopoly hasnt heard of timetables, budgeting or how to hire people to get the job done.

"Has there been any talk about adding this particular station into the line up when you are complete?" I asked, already seeing beneath the Monopolys thin veil of run around and excuses.

"No, we are not planning on adding it now, but we do get a lot of requests. One of these days Ill get around to counting them up."

Looking closely at the cable listing, I came to find out that the Monopoly has the exact same NBC and CBS channels on four of its channels, and a Kansas City and Denver ABC affiliate on two others. Couldnt one of these be replaced with a UPN while the Monopoly was "rebuilding" the cable service?

"People tend to get upset when we remove a station"

In the case of NBC and CBS, they have exactly the same programming... exact same!

When questioned further, the Monopoly representative said, "Thats the way its always been, why change it?"

I dont claim to know everything about the cable industry, Im sure there are some must carry laws, affiliate fees and what not that make adding (or dropping) a station difficult even if the cable company has had the opportunity for a year and a half to add it into their service.

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Related Keywords:Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Enterprise, UPN, Internet, cable, radio, monopoly, Mac, Microsoft, Charisma Carpenter, digital webcast


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