The TV cord-cutting debate continues with a reader who is flummoxed with all the fuss of bringing back old-school TV antennas. It’s a viewpoint I infrequently see in reader emails but I’m sure more of you are out there. Keep those questions coming and to avoid missing a week, sign up for the new Tech+ newsletter at dpo.st/mailbag.
Q: I mostly have a comment. With the cut-the-cord discussion you often suggest getting a rooftop antenna. Curious that time seems to go backward on that. I tried many options, styles of antenna for a TV in a bedroom that was just to see the news before sleeping, but it was horrible reception. Unreliable and easily affected by anything from weather to neighbors to wind and just cuz it felt like it. I have Comcast and finally broke down and got an extension and it costs me about $4 extra, plus I get all the cable channels. If technology is supposed to help, it shouldn’t be this difficult, cheaper and not going backward! There has to be better options than rooftop antenna. — Mary Habas, Denver
Tech+ Very good point Mary! This is going backwards.
Cable was a godsend to people who really couldn’t get decent reception. And 20 years ago, the price tag was a livable trade off for good reception. Back in 1995, the average price of expanded basic service was $22.35 a month, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Today, or at least as of 2015, the same basic service has tripled to $69.03, according to the FCC. Add in internet (which, of course, is essential for cord cutting) and TV bills have become a bigger chunk of a household budget.
Here are historical cable TV prices, according to the latest FCC report:
People may hate dealing with their cable provider, but this has to do with price. I get why people want to delete $70 out of their monthly budget.
And way back when cable TV wasn’t an option, you needed a good TV antenna. So, yes, rewind to the days of bunny ears and spotty reception.