John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Comcast in Jacksonville – Fewer Choices at Higher Prices! (Or, Why the History Channel and Cartoon Network Suck Now)

September 16th, 2009

What a bad combination, I was paying my cable bill at the exact same time I was trying to find something to watch.  I did manage to pay the bill, but I’m still looking for something decent to watch.

A few years ago, Comcast bought up all the rights to the city’s cable infrastructure.  The lines have been in for a while, and as long ago as 1997 there’s been high bandwidth cable internet available.  Comcast themselves aren’t responsible for most of the line running through town, but they did purchase the rights so they’ve got a monopoly on cable access.

At first it was no big deal.  The lines are still the fastest source of internet in Jacksonville.  DSL and wireless offerings just can’t compare.  Unfortunately, the system is still prone to resets, short outages, and prime-time sluggishness.

What really sucks though, is the trend toward fewer and fewer basic cable channels.  It started a few months ago with Comcast putting Cartoon Network on channel 124 so you’d have to rent a “digital converter” if you wanted to watch.  (Someone should tell their marketing department that cable is already digital.)

Now they’ve completely gotten rid of the History Channel!  You can’t even find it on the nose-bleed channels, because its simply not on the Jacksonville line-up anywhere.

Of course, I can’t completely blame them.  The History Channel has turned in to a bit of a running joke on the internet.  Back in the day, they were jokingly referred to as the “Military History Channel” but these days their schedule seems filled with stories about UFOs and Alaskan truck-drivers and Bigfoot and Biblical conspiracy theories.  Now, I like conspiracy theories as much as the next guy, but they’ve so thoroughly abandoned anything resembling credibility in an attempt to make their wild stories seem believable.  Its not working.

Cartoon Network is also in a bit of a slump, so that may explain why Comcast is pushing their channel to the back of the list.  They haven’t been able to keep up with the high quality originals they introduced a decade ago:  Powerpuff Girls, Cow & Chicken, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd, and Eddie, Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Dexter’s Laboratory, etc…

For a while there, it seemed like they were on the cutting edge of cartoons, with shows that could be enjoyable to kids, young adults, and parents alike.  Then suddenly, they ran out of ideas or something because they ended up with rip-offs of the shows they had just canceled.

Even Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late-night network, seemed to take a sharp turn for the worse.  With Colbert unable to work on Harvey Birdman anymore and Space Ghost & Brak faded to memory, the replacements relied heavily on live-action shows with low budgets.  Instead of situational comedy, they were relying more on visual gags, disgust factor, and shows that are supposedely “funny because they’re so bad.”

Well, guess what?  That’s not really funny at all:  That’s just bad!

So, for now, I have nothing to watch as far as cartoons and documentaries go.  And somehow I’m paying more for it than I did last year or the year before.  I might even drop cable outright, but the cost of internet without TV cable ends up making the extra channels practically free.  I could pay $90 for just the internet, or $130 for the internet with about 200 TV channels in one room and 50 in the rest.  Obviously, they figured out how to trap me in the services I’m using, but if too many more channels disappear from the lineup outright, I’ll have to seriously consider this satellite thing everyone is jumping aboard.




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