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This is not likely to be a surprise to people who have ever subscribed to cable television. Cable TV companies have long been known for their tendency to raise prices on a regular basis and whenever a convenient excuse comes along that could make their price-raising activities look a bit more legitimate, they just cannot help themselves. In this case, two cable giants have raised their monthly fees by as much as $10 for something they are calling “Broadcast TV” fees. According to Charter and Time Warner cable, these new fees are the result of the fees that the companies have to pay to broadcast networks for the privilege of delivering their programming content to cable subscribers.

This didn’t sit very well with at least one cable customer who decided to file a lawsuit alleging that the prices that subscribers pay are often quite different from the prices that the compcable-connectionanies state in their advertising. Again, anyone who has subscribed to cable TV knows that the prices they advertise for their programming packages do not include all the extra fees that get added to the bill that the subscriber actually ends up paying. It probably comes as a bit of a shock when someone signs up for a package that has been advertised for $29.99 only to find out the real monthly cost is $49.99! That’s not the type of thing that makes for a happy customer.

What seems to be most irritating for the consumer who brought the lawsuit is that the companies are not making this “network fee” known as part of their advertising. The consumer also argues that one of the core functions of cable TV is to provide access to local broadcast programming.

It appears that nobody is arguing against the claim of the cable companies that they have to pay certain fees to include programming from the big broadcasters, and consumers would probably even agree that those costs need to be reflected in the bill. It’s the surprise factor that is most upsetting to so many consumers. When you see an advertisement on TV or hear one on the radio that says you can sign up for cable and pay just $19.99 per month and later find out you really have to pay significantly more than that, it’s upsetting. Most people have to live within their means and must spend every dollar carefully. If you are going to tell consumers you will give them cable for $29.99 per month, you had better give them cable for $29.99 per month! Sounds like basic marketing and advertising common sense, but apparently that kind of wisdom is lost on cable giants like Charter and Time Warner.

Most cable customers are probably quite accustomed to seeing the litany of fees that show up in their cable TV bill which the cable companies provide so that they can see how many ways they are being fleeced. Even the government gets involved by creating taxes on cable service that they come up with fancy names for so people will feel like they are contributing to something worthwhile. A lot of consumers are quite tolerant and perhaps that’s just because they are so accustomed to being taken advantage of. It’s kind of refreshing to see that at least one consumer is willing to take a stand and old these companies accountable. Is it really so much to ask for when you expect a company to tell you honestly how much they charge for their service?

For more detail on this story, head on over to The Consumerist.

DISH Does Not Give In Easily

September 10th, 2016

One frustration that DISH subscribers will encounter once in a while happens when DISH renegotiates one of their carriage agreements with a content provider. As you probably already know, DISH doesn’t simply broadcast all the content they provide from networks like ABC, CBS, NBC or HBO without paying for it first. DISH has to come to an agreement with broadcasters regarding how much they will pay for the right to broadcast the programming all the networks, studios and independent artists provide. I don’t really know how much DISH or any other broadcaster pays for those kinds of things but it’s bound to be a lot of money.

When DISH cuts a deal to broadcast programming from a provider they establish a contract that allows DISH to broadcast their programming for a fixed period of time for a certain amount of money. When a contract like that expires, it has to be renegotiated or terminated. Naturally, DISH wants to provide content that’s attractive as possible for subscribers and potential subscribers, so it’s in their best interest to make deals with popular content providers in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Most of the time contracts are successfully renegotiated pretty quickly and subscribers never see any interruption in their programming. In other cases, the content provider may be demanding a substantial increase in the fee that they charge DISH to continue broadcasting their content and that sometimes leads to trouble.

DISH is very well-known for their tendency to drive a hard bargain when it comes to negotiating contracts and sometimes those negotiations can take a while. Unfortunately for subscribers, this sometimes results in channels being removed from DISH’s programming line-up while the negotiations take place. Oftentimes the negotiations only take a few days and the channel comes back on the air quickly and at other times the negotiations can drag on for an extended period, leaving DISH subscribers with a bit of a “hole” in their channel line-up for a few weeks or even months. It’s a kind of high stakes poker game while executives and negotiators from each side try to come to an agreement.

Like any negotiation, there are two sides to the story. News reports usually quote programming providers who claim DISH is being unreasonable and expecting too much for too little money, while DISH often states that they are working hard to keep prices low for their subscribers by refusing to pay too much for programming content. For a DISH subscriber this can be a frustrating time and it is often hard to tell who makes the better argument to explain the extended channel outage.

What DISH tells customers about keeping prices low really does make sense since the more DISH has to pay programming providers, the more they will have to charge subscribers who want access to that programming. It puts the DISH decision makers in a tough spot because they want to keep prices low and also avoid angering customers who may be missing out on watching one of their favorite channels while the negotiations drag on.

Other broadcasters like cable television companies and DISH’s direct competitor DirecTV have to make the same deals that DISH does in order to provide programming for their subscribers and their customers also have to endure losing a channel now and then. To be honest however, DISH is probably the toughest and most stubborn negotiator in the industry, and that might make it a bit more likely for DISH subscribers to experience losing channels a bit more than subscribers to other broadcast services.

As a fan of DISH network myself, it brings me no particular pleasure to note that fact that DISH’s tough negotiation tactics could result in lost of channels once in a while for subscribers, but this is simply the truth and I always try to keep that first and foremost here. Losing channels due to contract negotiations is pretty rare and I do not ever recall losing a channel permanently during the 16 years I was a DISH subscriber. DISH always seems to come to an agreement with whatever broadcaster they happen to be negotiating with so it’s usually just a matter of patience until deleted channels are returned to the programming line-up.

It should be no surprise to anyone that an article I found online at a site called ( about DirecTV would get my attention. The article is called “9 Most Annoying Things About DirecTV,” and I am certainly in agreement with them about DirecTV being annoying, so naturally I read the article to see what it had to say. I thought it would be interesting to give my take on each of the 9 things that they found so annoying, so here they are:

1. “Bad weather caused outages” – Yes, that is certainly true and in my experience, DirecTV is even more prone to outages during bad weather than DISH Network is. I had DISH Network for about 16 years so I am very familiar with it and how it performs. In fact, when I had DISH Network, I usually re-aligned my own satellite dish when it was needed and I didn’t have any signal-measuring equipment or other professional tools that the installation technicians use and I still had fewer problems with DISH during bad weather than I have had with DirecTV. I should point out that I experienced very few weather-related outages with DISH Network during all the years I was a subscriber.

2. “DirecTV contracts require two-year agreements” – Yes, they sure do! I know this because I had to sign up for a minimum of two years when I got DirecTV in the spring of 2015. The two main reasons I cancelled my DISH Network subscription and signed up for DirecTV is that my son started working for a major DirecTV contractor and since he was living with us for a while during that time, we were able to get the top-of-the-line DirecTV programming package free for a while he was here. He has since moved out and we decided to get our own DirecTV subscription and give it a try for a while. We were also offered a $200 Visa gift card for signing up and that was also a big incentive. We did get the gift card and enjoyed spending it!

3. “DirecTV charges expensive cancellation fees” – I don’t have any direct experience with this but I don’t doubt it at all. While I am not thrilled with DirecTV, for us it does work, and I have no plans to cancel it before our two-year contract expires because I don’t want them to try charging us with some ridiculous cancellation fee. I can wait about another seven or eight months when our contract expires to cancel it, and I will surely be cancelling it on the day it expires.

4. “You have lots of equipment to install and maintain” – That’s a bit of an exaggeration since all you really need is the dish antenna and the receivers or DVRs with the coax cable to connect it all and that’s about it. The article in question really breaks things down and even lists the “access card” separately which is really splitting hairs. The access card plugs into the receiver or DVR to allow the television programming to be decoded for viewing, so listing it as a separate item as if it takes up extra space is just silly.

5. “DirecTV is a subsidiary of AT&T” – This is 100 percent true. A while back telecommunications and internet giant AT&T gobbled up DirecTV and added it to its “family” of companies. That only made subscribers like me dislike the service even more since I am not a fan of AT&T and definitely not a fan of a few mega-corporations owning everything. Having AT&T in the picture will make it that much more satisfying when I cancel the service next spring when my two-year contract runs its course.

6. “Like any TV provider, customer service is frustrating”- Happily, I have not had to deal much with DirecTV customer service, although I have certainly had more than my share of misery when dealing with AT&T customer service since they provide the “high-speed” internet service where I live and that’s because I simply have no other choice. The only time I called DirecTV customer service was in the spring of 2016 when my one-year “introductory price”expired and my monthly bill shot from about $50 per month to over $70 per month. I called and told them I was not happy about that and I was able to talk them into lowering my bill for the next year down to around $50 as it was originally. To be honest, I did not even know I had been paying an “introductory price” and was quite shocked when the price suddenly went up by more than $20 per month. The key to getting them to lower my bill was that I was very polite, patient and nice when I called to tell them I wasn’t happy about the price increase. There’s an old saying that says “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar,” and in many cases, that is very true.

7. “DirecTV often opts for obnoxious marketing” – I cannot get on board with this one simply because I don’t consider DirecTV’s marketing any more “obnoxious” than most other big companies. Granted, I do not see many TV commercials since I record just about everything I watch on the DVR and use the “fast-forward” to skip commercials, so perhaps I have missed out on some especially obnoxious DirecTV commercials. Other than that, I don’t have too much to say on this subject.

8. “The company has been slow to the over-the-top service game” – Over-the-top is industry slang for delivering content — in this case, television programming – over the internet. Video over the internet is all the rage these days as many people already know. This may be a big issue for some people, especially younger folks but but since I tend to be “old school” and prefer watching TV on a “real” TV, I don’t care all that much about getting programming delivered over the internet. If I want to see video on the net, I can go to YouTube and watch videos for the rest of my life and probably the rest of the lives of everyone currently inhabiting planet Earth if I choose.

9. “There are tons of great alternatives to satellite TV (or cable)” – Yes, this is also true, but the fact that other services are available does not make DirecTV “annoying,” so this makes little sense. Still, I will address it. There are many options available for TV programming these days and most of them rely on having real high-speed internet service. The problem with this is that not all of us have “real” high-speed internet service. For example, where I live, myself and my three neighbors that live at the end of our little out-of-the-way dirt cul-de-sac have only one option when it comes to “high-speed” internet service and that’s AT&T’s DSL service that tops out at 8 Mbps. That surely is better than dial-up, but not truly high-speed internet as it would be defined in this day and age. It’s not fast enough to stream high-quality TV programming for any length of time, so that leaves many of us unable to take advantage of TV programming available on the internet from the likes of Netflix or Amazon.

I’ve been a DirecTV customer now for about 17 months and my opinion of it has not changed, if anything, it’s gotten even worse. The fact that AT&T acquired DirecTV certainly did not help. I have no desire to hand over more of my money to AT&T, a company that can’t quite get its act together if my experience is any indication. Due to my location, my only choice for high-speed internet service is AT&T and I have not been impressed. I have had to return at least three DSL modems to them because they stopped working. And on two occasions, when I sent the modem back, AT&T somehow didn’t realize that they had received them. I had to jump through a bunch of hoops on two occasions to prove that I had returned the modems so AT&T wouldn’t add the cost of them to my bill. It was a real hassle to have to endure once, but twice? I’m also not terribly happy about being charged nearly $60 per  month for “high-speed” DSL internet service that tops out at 8 Mbps. Calling that “high speed” would probably be considered laughable by most folks who enjoy genuine high speed internet service with speeds like 30 or 50 Mbps but AT&T is happy to pretend that the paltry 8 Mbps they offer myself and my neighbors is a premium service that they charge us a premium price for.

Let’s get beyond my feelings for both DirecTV and AT&T as far as customer service goes and talk about how DirecTV actually performs. If I had to summarize it briefly, I would probably just say, “not great.”

As I’ve indicated before, DirecTV equipment and technology just doesn’t measure up to DISH Network. I was a DISH Network customer for about 16 years and my experience with DirecTV over the past 17 months or so has proven that DISH Network is simply superior. My DirecTV HD DVR is very “laggy,” in other words, it is slow to respond to many things I try to do with it. For example, let’s say I am browsing through the list of programs that I have recorded and I decide to delete one of them. I press the ‘DELETE’ button on the remote control and then press again to confirm that I want to delete a program and sometimes it deletes the program right away and returns me to my list of recorded programs and at other times it will simply take a break for a few seconds and do nothing before it returns to my list of recorded programs. It’s almost as if someone hit the “PAUSE” button for a few seconds and frozen whatever the DVR is attempting to do. It does this very randomly and I can encounter these little delays when I am doing just about anything with the DVR. In all my years using DISH  Network equipment, I never experienced delays like that. Ever.

It should be noted that the problem with delays is not just with my HR25 DVR. My son, who works for a major DirecTV contractor, has a Genie DVR – DirecTV’s top-of-the-line DVR – and tells me that he has the same problem with it. One of the technicians he works with worked for DISH Network previously and is very quick to agree that DISH Network’s equipment is clearly superior to DirecTV.

I know that service disruptions due to weather conditions is a favorite topic for cable TV companies, so let’s talk about that for a bit. It’s true that bad weather can cause service interruptions for satellite television customers but in my years of experience with DISH Network, weather-related outages were quite rare and I only experienced a handful of them each year, and that was usually during a very heavy downpour like you might see during a severe thunderstorm. I can’t quite say the same for DirecTV. It is clear to me that my DirecTV service is more easily interrupted by bad weather than my DISH Network service was. There could be a logical and reasonable explanation for that, like perhaps DirecTV satellites do not transmit with as much power as DISH Network satellites or perhaps I am just in a better location to receive from the DISH Network satellites. I have no idea, but I do know my DISH Network service was more reliable in bad weather than DirecTV.

When April, 2017 rolls around my two-year contract with DirecTV will expire and I will definitely be canceling the service without delay. To be honest, I am still undecided on whether I will sign up for DISH Network again or try my luck with some of the internet TV services like those offered by Netflix and For my local programming, I intend to try getting an antenna to see how well we can receive the local stations here. Both my wife and I don’t watch a whole lot of different programming on a regular basis so paying for a “bundle” of programming from DISH Network or any other “traditional” pay-TV provider may not be the way to go for us. On the other hand, my “high speed” internet service from AT&T may not work out too well for “streaming” video from Netflix or, so we could very well end up signing up with DISH again. After 16 years of service from them that ended when I decided to try DirecTV, I really don’t have any complaints about it and if we decide to stay with satellite TV, it will be with DISH Network for sure.

The Verdict: DISH Beats DirecTV

September 30th, 2015

Well, things have changed again and I am now a paying customer of DirecTV, a company that’s now part of the “AT&T family”directv-dish which does absolutely no good for my desire to continue with the service. I have AT&T as my only option for “high speed” internet where I live and I am not thrilled with their service, but that’s a topic for another day I suppose.

My son who works as an installer for DirecTV (technically he works for a contractor but all he works on is DirecTV) moved out some months ago and we decided to switch from DISH to DirecTV, basically because he works for them. That turned out to be a mistake. I admit it’s not the worst mistake I have ever made but after a year of having DirecTV, I wish I never switched from DISH to DirecTV. When my son was living here it was a good deal since we got DirecTV’s top-of-the-line package for free and it’s hard to beat a deal like that.

One good thing that has come out of being a DirecTV customer is that I can now speak with some authority about DirecTV and can share that information here, Hopefully, it will be helpful to those who are trying to decide between DISH and DirecTV.

When my son moved out we ordered DirecTV service and we received a HR24-500 DVR, and that is probably the primary reason I am unhappy with DirecTV. In short, their equipment sucks, but I’ll get back to that in a bit. First I’ll talk about what I like about DirecTV.

So far, DirecTV is costing us about $5 less per month than we were paying for DISH Network. The programming package we now have is similar to the one we had when we were with DISH, but I’d have to say that DirecTV is a little more generous with the channels that are included in the package. There are two or three channels we have as part of our package that were not included on the DISH package we had. This is something that will vary a great deal from customer to customer since not everyone likes the same channels. While I am somewhat happier with the channels I receive with DirecTV, someone else is probably not at all happy. It all depends on what your interests are.

That’s pretty much where the list of what I like about DirecTV comes to an end. And as I pointed out before, the fact that the company is now owned by AT&T makes matters worse. In my experience AT&T does not have a good track record where customer service is concerned and I suspect DirecTV customer service will suffer as a result. Do things for the customer ever get better after one of these mega-mergers take place? I suspect not.

Here’s what I really hate about DirecTV: Their equipment sucks. Sound familiar? I was a DISH customer for about 16 years, so I am very familiar with their equipment, how reliable it was and how it performed, and I can say with no hesitation that it blows DirecTV equipment out of the water. And keep in mind that I am comparing a relatively old DISH DVR (model ViP6222) to what I assume is one of the latest DirecTV DVRs (model HR24-500). Still, my old DISH DVR ran circles around the DirecTV DVR.

Let’s get specific shall we? One of the first thing I have noticed is DirecTV seems a lot more susceptible to bad weather than DISH ever did. Again, I had DISH for 16 years, so I am quite familiar with how various types of weather affect it. In my experience so far, I have to say that DirecTV service is interrupted far more frequently by the weather than DISH ever was. We lose our DirecTV service during rain storms that I am quite certain would not have impacted DISH at all. Losing our DISH service due to weather was quite rare. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing for DirecTV. After this experience, it’s a lot easier to believe those cable TV commercials that claim satellite TV service gets knocked out by bad weather frequently. That was not the case with DISH.

directv-dvrAnother problem I have with DirecTV equipment is that it lags a lot. When I say “lags” what I am referring to is the delay between the time I press a button on the remote control and the time the DVR actually responds. Although there was some lag time with my DISH equipment, it is much longer with DirecTV, and that was also true when my son was living here and the “Genie” DVR was installed. Making matters worse, sometimes the lag goes from being annoying to being ridiculous. For example, just deleting a recording from the DVR will sometimes leave me “hanging” for up to 6 to 7 seconds or even a bit more. This happens randomly, and fortunately it is usually a lot faster, but I can honestly say I never had those kinds of experiences with DISH equipment. In fact, almost anything I do with the DirecTV DVR is subject to a lot of lag time that can be measured in seconds. You just never can rely on it responding in timely fashion no matter what you are trying to do with it.

Here’s something else that happened recently that wasn’t a major issue but further demonstrated that DirecTV equipment is simply inferior. On our HR24-500 DVR there are a number of lighted areas on the front that illuminate when the DVR is turned on. One day a week or so ago I turned it on and found that only one light illuminated and all the others that normally come on were dark. The DVR seemed to function normally so I simply left it for a few days to see if the lights would come back on. Finally, I decided to unplug the DVR for a few minutes and when I powered it back on again the lights were illuminated once again. Not the sign of a well-designed or build piece of equipment.

When all things are considered, I would prefer to be back with DISH Network even if I had to pay a little more a sacrifice a few channels. Losing our DirecTV in bad weather which would not have knocked out the DISH signal and putting up with lag when using the DVR are sufficient to make me wish I had not switched. Unfortunately, I am locked into a two-year contract with DirecTV and will just have to wait it out. When that two years is up, I will be dropping DirecTV unless things change significantly, and I really doubt that is going to happen.

We’ve had DirecTV now for a few months and that experience has given me some good insight about how it differs from DISH. As I have previously mentioned, my son took a job working for one of DirecTV’s biggest contract installers, and that allowed us to get the top-of-the-line DirecTV package for free. There’s really no way to argue with free, so we cancelled DISH after more than 15 years to see how DirecTV would work out. Here’s what I have concluded so far.

About The Same

As far as programming goes, DISH and DirecTV offer the same channels. Surely there are a few differences here and there, but so far I have not noticed anything that I previously had on DISH that I can no longer watch. DISH has a long history of offering a better selection of international watching-the-tubeprogramming, but since that’s not something we are interested in, it really wasn’t a factor for us.

A lot of sports fans might not agree with me about how the programming from the two satellite services differ, and since I am not a sports fan, I really couldn’t argue with them. I know a lot of football fans consider DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket” to be essential, so that may give DirecTV the edge with a lot of football fans. Sports fans will probably make out best if they carefully evaluate all the sports programming available on both DISH and DirecTV and make their decision based on their findings.

All of the most popular channels are going to be available on both DISH and DirecTV, although they will definitely be bundled differently when the two are compared. I’ve taken some time to review the programming packages that are available on both services, and I think I have to give a slight advantage to DirecTV. I looked recently at the lower-priced programming packages for both of them and I think DirecTV may be a bit more generous when it comes to providing some of the most popular channels, although be aware that you’ll probably pay a little more.

Don’t take the “low” prices that are advertised too literally. By the time they are done tacking on DVR fees, HD fees and other fees, you can easily end up paying twice as much as the prices they advertise for their programming packages. Those prices are the “base” prices for the packages and do not include extra fees and taxes just about every subscriber will have to pay. When you call to order service, you will be told what the final cost of your service will be.

So as far as programming packages go, I’d rate them about the same with a slight edge for DirecTV.

A Clear Difference

If you are curious about where DISH and DirecTV really differ, you’ll want to consider equipment. I have many years of experience with DISH Network’s receivers and DVRs and I have to say that DirecTV’s was a big disappointment in comparison. DISH’s equipment blows DirecTV’s away – there’s no doubt about that for me.

First of all, DirecTV’s equipment just isn’t as user-friendly. For me, their user interface just isn’t very intuitive, and they seem to have used confusing terminology for various functions, and just didn’t put as much thought into making their products as easy to use as DISH did.

I’ve been a DVR addict since I got my first DISH DVR a number of years ago, and I record just about everything I watch. Even if it is something I really want to see, I am usually willing to wait 30 minutes or so after a program airs before I begin watching the recording since it allows me to skip long, annoying commercial breaks. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a lot of experience using a DVR, and when I first sat down to use the DirecTV DVR (the “Genie”) I found myself floundering around a bit trying to figure out how it worked.

remote-controlThere is bound to be a learning curve involved in switching from one DVR to another, but the difficulties I had ran deeper than that. The way DirecTV set up their functions and menus just didn’t make sense to me. In contrast, DISH’s DVRs were set up very logically and were easy to learn very quickly. With DirecTV’s equipment, it’s almost like the user interface was an afterthought – something they just threw together with a kind of “good enough” approach to the whole concept.

Another thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a bit more “lag” with DirecTV’s equipment than with DISH’s. What I am talking about is the amount of time between when you press a button on the remote and the time when you see the result. A good example would be changing channels. It just takes a tiny bit longer for the DVR to react when I change channels or do just about anything else on the DirecTV DVR than it did on the DISH DVR. It’s not a big deal, and probably not something to base a decision on, but it was something I noticed.

The Bottom Line

Comparing DISH and DirecTV based on their programming packages and available channels didn’t really convince me that one was clearly better than the other. You may be hard pressed to find channels that are not available from both of them. That does not include “specialty” programming like sports or international channels. If sports or international programming a major considerations, it would be best to carefully compare the two services side-by-side yourself and then make a decision.

If you’re a person who’s not really comfortable with gizmos and technology in general, it is my opinion that you will find the DISH Network equipment easier to learn and less of a hassle in the long run. For me, DISH Network’s equipment and user interface is clearly superior to DirecTV’s.

Duck Dynasty A TV Empire

August 24th, 2013

It seems that the reality show Duck Dynasty is all the rage these days on TV. I’ve never actually paid a whole lot of attention to the show but a lot of other people sure are! The premier show of the current season attracted 12 million viewers, setting the record for largest viewership tuning in to a nonfiction show on “cable.” (Aren’t they forgetting satellite?)

I’ve seen the advertisements for the show on TV a number of times and as far as I could tell, it appeared to be a reality show about a bunch of guys with beards who manufacture products having to do with duck hunting. It didn’t sound particularly interesting to me, so I never bothered to watch.Not A Duck Dynasty Fan

Now that this record-breaking season premier has my attention, I’m thinking that it may be time to check this program out. Surely a program that attracts 12 million pairs of eyeballs must have something going for it, right?

A few tidbits I’ve stumbled upon in my travels around the internet suggest that a lot of people find the show downright hilarious. Maybe that’s the key to it all. It’s good comedy?

I have not yet watched a single episode but I plan to in the near future. I used to enjoy watching the reality show that the Osbournes had for a while only because some of the things Ozzy came out with were priceless for their comedic content. At least for me. If Duck Dynasty appeals to me for the same reasons, they will have found themselves a brand-new viewer.

Duck Dynasty sounds like a program that might rub some people the wrong way. The whole show is built around the duck hunting business and apparently the main characters do their share of duck hunting themselves. That’s not something that’s likely to attract viewers who are sympathetic to the cause of an organization like PETA.

In addition, the stars of the show aren’t shy about their Christian faith either. That’s another potential turn-off for a segment of the population. Perhaps this is a program that might be considered “politically incorrect?”

It appears, however, that there are enough people out there who appreciate the humor, the duck hunting, the open display of faith or perhaps all three, to break viewing records.

I guess it’s time for me to see what all the fuss is about.

Do you watch Duck Dynasty and if so, what it is about the program that you like?

Let me begin with the following disclosure: I do not watch Big Brother, but my wife absolutely loves the program and never misses and episode so I have been subjected to bits and pieces of it here and there.

The show has stirred up controversy in the past as a result of various things said or done by contestants, but this time the show may have outdone itself. One of the contestants, a young man named Spencer made some pretty disturbing comments during the show’s “live” feed on Monday regarding child pornography.

As I stated at the beginning, I do not watch this program but due to its apparent popularity, I’ve seen various tidbits about it on the news and heard a little bit about it from my wife. My understanding – and this may not be completely accurate – is that the contestants in the “Big Brother House” are being filmed 24 hours a day which captures just about everything they do with the obvious exceptions of bathroom visits and things of that nature.big-brother-live-cam

The live feed is something that allows fans of the show to connect to the various cameras inside the house and observe the goings-on at any time of the day or night. From the little exploring I did concerning this live feed, it appears it is accessible though the CBS website and although I was under the impression it was free, apparently that is not the case.

CBS charges a $9.99 per month fee for fans to access the live feed because I guess they’re just not making enough money from the advertisers who buy commercials on the program and the fees they collect from all the pay-TV providers who have to pay CBS to rebroadcast their programming. There is a “free trial” for the live feed but I’m not clear on the details.

Getting back to the main point of the story, it seems this Spencer person had already earned himself a reputation for making controversial remarks before this latest flash of brilliance he exhibited for the world to enjoy. It has been reported that he previously made remarks that seemed complimentary to Adolph Hitler and used a few choice gay slurs as well.

As a result of these most recent remarks, it appears Spencer may have some reason to be concerned about having contact with law enforcement authorities. It’s well know that crimes involving sexual abuse of children and child pornography are treated very seriously.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Is CBS OK with having someone like that on one of their very popular programs? Will fans call for him to be kicked off the show?

If Spencer was looking for attention, he certainly accomplished his mission. Perhaps the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” – or in this case, a stint as a contestant on a “reality” TV show simply isn’t enough for some people.

It’s a story that’s been widely circulated in the industry.CBS, parent company of veteran web tech website CNET ordered them to nix their plans to honor DISH’s Hopper with Sling whole-home DVR with their “Best of CES” Award during the annual CES Show in Las Vegas.

CBS is tangling with DISH in the courts over the Hopper’s unique “AutoHop” capabilities that allow viewers to automatically skip over commercials while watching recordings of primetime network programming – something many viewers already do the “old fashioned” way by using the fast-forward or skip-ahead buttons.DISH and CBS In Court Battle

Now it seems that CBS is not getting the kind of publicity they want as a result of this issue and it seems to be favoring DISH, perhaps even more so than if they had been given the award in the first place.

The whole situation does not reflect terribly well on CNET either since they could be seen simply as a CBS puppet by some. There’s little doubt that any reputation they may have earned for themselves as an independent editorial voice was dealt a pretty significant blow by CBS’s heavy-handed directive.

It appears that the whole issue came to light in the wake of CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval’s resignation from the CNET staff. Sandoval pulled back the curtain on the whole thing with a post on Twitter where he revealed his lack of faith in CBS’s commitment to editorial independence.

Perhaps the execs at CBS and the other big networks are just out of touch with the way people watch TV these days. Viewers have been skipping commercials since the DVR was introduced in the early 1980’s. I’ve been a die-hard commercial-skipper since that time and whether or not I can press a button a few times and skip commercials or have it done automatically is not going to change the fact that I will continue to skip commercials.

Isn’t there some kind of sensible way for advertisers to reach their audience other than relying on commercials? What about inserting products into the television programs themselves? You know, having one of the show’s stars sipping a Coke or something. This is something I’ve heard talked about in the past but have not seen much of so far. It would look quite natural since people do drink Coke and consume other goods in real life so it certainly wouldn’t be damaging to the storyline.

That is the kind of advertising I could live with quite happily. I would not expect commercials to disappear completely and if they are well-done enough and are entertaining and/or informative, I might actually watch them. At the present time I often feel like my intelligence is being insulted by the commercials being aired today. How many “dumb dad” commercials can viewers take?

This whole commercial-skipping thing is going to take a while to sort out. We all know how long it takes court battles like this to be resolved. I just hope the courts do the right thing and stand up for the consumer’s right to consume the products and services we pay for as we see fit.

As a DISH customer myself, I receive all the usual mailings that other customers receive in the mail. In the latest mailing there was a card that compares DISH with satellite broadcaster DirecTV and cable TV provider Xfinity (also known as Comcast).

The data presented on the card is interesting and appears to show that DISH does indeed have many advantages over DirecTV and Xfinity. The following data is presented on the card:

The 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index ranked the three companies as follows:

Overall Satisfaction: DISH #1, DirecTV #2, Xfinity #4
Fewest Complaints: DISH #1, DirecTV “Not First,” Xfinity “Not First”
Value: DISH #1, DirecTV “Not First,” Xfinity “Not First”
Loyalty: DISH #1, DirecTV “Not First,” Xfinity “Not First”
Call Center Satisfaction: DISH #1, DirecTV “Not First,” Xfinity “Not First”
Website Satisfaction: DISH #1, DirecTV “Not First,” Xfinity “Not First”

The card also lists the following grades from the Better Business Bureau as of 12/5/2012: DISH A-, DirecTV D+, Xfinity B+

The card also presents information on how packages and pricing stack up between the three companies. Comparing DISH’s America’s Top 200 package with DirecTV’s Choice Xtra and Xfinity’s Digital Preferred plans reveals the following:

Channels: DISH 263, DirecTV 234, Xfinity 171
Price: DISH $84.99, DirecTV $68.99, Xfinity $81.99

There is additional data presented on the card which can be viewed below.

It’s interesting to see that Xfinity (Comcast) charges so much more than both DISH and DirecTV for a package that has fewer channels. In my experience, cable has always been more expensive than satellite and it appears that hasn’t changed, at least where Xfinity is concerned.

DISH Network Comparison Chart

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