One thing about moving to the country: More often than not I can reach a real live person when dealing with services — the electric company that sent people out immediately when I called about a tree leaning on the line, the gas company when I questioned their decision not to deliver in the winter because of my “dangerous driveway,” and Blue Ridge Communications which handles my cable, internet, and phone. Yesterday I noticed that I did not get CBS in high-definition but could get it on the non-HD channel. This may not seem like a big deal — and in the general scheme of things it isn’t — but it bothered me. It didn’t make any sense since I was still receiving all the other HD channels and still getting the same NY-based CBS channel on the non-HD channel. Here’s the thing — when it comes to cable, logic and sense making doesn’t count.
This morning I checked again and still had a blank screen for HD CBS, so I called Blueridge. Almost immediately I was speaking with Lisa, a real live person. She was very sympathetic but told me of a CBS blackout of certain shows. Those shows, she said, could only be viewed on local channels but not in HD. Okay. I can accept that (although right away this makes no sense to me — why would CBS care where you watch their shows?), but why wasn’t I getting ANY shows at all? “It must have something to do with the blackout,” says Lisa, “Could you hold for a minute please?” While I was holding, I flipped the channel to HD CBS and my system was “rebooting” — little blue lines going across the blank screen that said Passport TV. As it was rebooting, apparently it was also rebooting the phone because, as you might be expecting at this point, I was cut off from Lisa, my lifeline to Blueridge.
Not to be deterred, I waited a few minutes thinking she might call me back (really?), and then called back and started all over with Kathy. Kathy then said, “It’s a FCC rule.” “What is?” I asked. “That you watch certain programs on local channels,” she replied. Kathy told me that it started yesterday. Of course I told her I was really trying very hard to understand the logic in all this. She said, “You can’t watch certain programs on the New York channel.” “But,” I said, “I am watching the New York channel as we speak, just not in HD!” She declared that impossible at which point I gave up, resigned myself to watching any CBS programs in non-HD (not so bad), and thanked her for her help. I asked if this was going to be the case with other channels. “Oh, yes,” she said. “How will you let your customers know of these changes?” Kathy then said, “Well, when you go to the channel if there’s nothing there, you will know!” None of this makes sense to me at all. But…when it comes to dealing with cable companies, whether it’s Blueridge or Comcast or Time Warner, sense making is not part of the equation. By the way, I just turned on the TV and have CBS in HD! I guess the FCC and local cable channels worked really hard this morning to solve my problem!!