On the Pernicious Evils of the FCC

Fuck the FCC. Fuck the cell phone companies.

A year ago, I went out and dutifully bought a digital converter box for my television. Analog signals were going away, because the cell phone companies wanted the analog spectrum for who the fuck knows what reason.

I set up the digital converter box, and I had absolutely no problems with it. I got all the Baltimore stations crystal clear. I got all of the DC stations (except for two of the PBS stations) crystal clear.

Life was good.

Flash forward to mid-June. The transition from analog to digital was made, and stations recommended that people “rescan” their digital boxes.

I, not being a great television watcher, did not do so until Sunday, largely because I hadn’t watched any television since the finale of House.

So, I rescanned.

Whereupon I lost two of my Baltimore stations — channels 11 and 13.

This was unwelcome, especially at 7:45 in the evening, as I was looking forward to watching Merlin at eight on NBC. And one of those two stations was the NBC station. (I can’t keep straight which stations are which in the Baltimore market, unfortunately.)

And then I broke my antenna.

So, I watched a pixelated Merlin on Washington’s channel 4.

But I was determined to root out the problem, to figure out why I couldn’t receive channels 11 and 13. They’re fucking local. The transmitter is ten miles away.

Yesterday, I went to Big Lots and bought a new antenna. (They also had Animaniacs box sets for six dollars each.)

I went online, and discovered that channels 11 and 13 are well aware that many people in the Baltimore area cannot receive their stations now. They had some suggestions for reacquiring the signals.

I hooked up the new antenna, and rescanned.


For extreme cases, they recommended —

  • Disconnect the antenna from the digital box
  • Rescan. The box won’t find anything, which clears the memory.
  • Unplug the digital box.
  • Plug the digital box back in.
  • Reconnect the antenna.
  • Rescan. With the clear memory, you should pick up more stations.

So, I did this.

Whereupon, I found four stations.

Channel 2 from Baltimore has three channels. And I got channel 54.

The antenna’s knob had twelve positions. I tried rescanning on each of the twelve positions.

Now, I can be a very patient, almost Zen-like person. I can be like a rock at times. Surprising, I know.

I fucking exploded at the inherent idiocy of all this.

I found no new stations, in the twelve different knob positions, except for one that labeled itself as “38-3,” and I have not a fucking clue what the hell it was, as it never resolved to a picture. And I would either lose the trilogy of channel 2, or I would lose channel 54.

This was fucking bullshit.

Because this is not a brief process.

Finally, I took my old antenna base, the one where I had broken off one of the telescoping antennas, and hooked it back up to the digital box. I took the telescoping antennas from the new base and connected them to the old base.

I rescanned. I didn’t even bother with the “clear the memory, unplug” routine. I just wanted it done.

And I got everything back. Except channels 11 and 13 from Baltimore, and channels 7 and 9 from Washington.

The way I figure it, I now cannot watch CBS. But since I’ve never watched CSI, I can’t imagine I’m missing much.

And if I can’t watch Merlin tonight, I’m going to be seriously fucking pissed. And not in the drunken sense of the word, either.

Thank you so much, FCC, for bending over and taking it from the cell phone companies. You took something that worked quite well — over-the-air television signals — and have turned it into a source of endless frustration and insanity.

Suck on it, dickwads.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

2 thoughts on “On the Pernicious Evils of the FCC

  1. You can watch Merlin for free at hulu.com, though you must register and there’s a disclaimer that says only the five most recent episodes will be available. Try NBC’s website too.

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