Readers Talk About Their Choices

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor



Readers talk about their choices

The Columbian invited readers to discuss their decisions to cut cable service and find alternatives. Some said they’ve eliminated television entirely and are spending more time reading and with friends; others hired professionals to help them hook up antennas that delivered a wide choice of programming. Some continued Comcast Internet service, others turned to Clear, CenturyLink or other choices.

Here are comments from three readers — two who abandoned cable, and the chairman of a cable access program that is funded with a $1 per month assessment on cable service that is collected by Comcast. The following are drawn from e-mails and phone interviews, and have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Melisa Otrugman, 32, uses rabbit ears in her Fisher’s Landing apartment and taps RedBox and the Internet for movies and other entertainment. Her comments:

I cut my cable in May and it’s been amazing. I read more, spend more time with friends and have reconnected with my amazing DVD collection.

It’s funny how we get so used to something because it’s always there, but it was such a time suck. I remember when I was growing up, we didn’t get a lot of cable. To me it’s a luxury. The internet is a necessity.

My friends say, “Wow, that’s awesome,” but they don’t want to do it themselves because they don’t want to explain it to their kids. But there are so many options for watching TV. They like the fact that I’m being creative.

Justin Hayden, 28, lives with his wife in Hazel Dell. They’d switched from Comcast to DirecTV but were frustrated by constant price increases. Hayden purchased an internal antenna for $42 and came up with an alternative.

I had noticed that the DirecTV service required my Internet connection to obtain the “OnDemand” services that they advertise. Being in the IT field, I realized they were just using my Internet to download the content and sell it to me, so I looked into other options and found Boxee.

I already had a home theater PC connected to my high definition television, and Boxee provided the exact services and options that I needed to view just about everything we normally watch. What doesn’t come freely over the air, such as local news and programing, is available for free or a minimal price via Boxee.

We have been saving over $100 monthly and haven’t looked back. Boxee also has applications built in to connect to services such as Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, and many more, which provides many different options for viewing your beloved video content.

Ron Carr, board chairman, Fort Vancouver Cable Television, said he understands that some people cannot afford Comcast, but he notes that his program is one of the beneficiaries of payments from Comcast customers. (Comcast subscribers pay $1 monthly toward service and capital costs of public, educational, and government programming, including FVTV).

I think that public access television is the last bastion of the soapbox. People can present their view, talk about the government, express themselves.

There’s also the education program. People can either go to the university or they can come to FVTV. We have a lot of professionals who volunteer, and it’s extremely affordable.

Some of our programs get a lot of reaction. The Southwest Washington Wind Symphony credits us with putting them on the map.”

Everything right now is subject to the economy. We’re just trying to provide a service.