Cable companies charge for old free TV

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Buyer beware again!

In early April, I shared the saga of the duplicitous scams that credit card companies are playing. My daughter and I suffered through Macy’s fraudulent interest fee of two bucks on a paid-off balance, and my BFF Donna was charged a $2 fee for residual interest on a zero balance from a major bank card.

Now I’m adding Fios to the list.

Long ago, when TV was free, you had the basic channels — 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 — and everyone could tune in and watch their weekly shows. It was fine, good, family entertainment. However, we got sold every item that the FCC and the advertisers pushed our way over the airwaves. The networks made money by selling ad spots and sponsorships. These interruptions were annoying and people did not like to have pesky ads shoved down their throats as they anesthetized in front of the tube.

To combat this, savvy folks decided to cash in on our unhappiness and invented the cable concept. By sending programs directly into our televisions on a wire, and charging a small fee (ain’t there always) for the privilege, viewers could watch a show without any commercial interruption and watch whatever content without censorship. Oh, what a guilty pleasure.

Of course, with all things guilty and pleasurable there were catches — one, they never last long enough, and two, cable channels were not readily available. Fast forward to today, where mega-channel packages from mega-cable conglomerates rule the idiot box — Fios, Spectrum, Optimum — you even need a cable hookup to view free channels. Ain’t that a kick in the head.

Which brings me to my BFF Donna. She has Fios as a provider with loads of premium channels. Recently she wanted to watch a “Saturday Night Live” episode that had aired several weeks ago. She clicked on the On-Demand feature, found the program, and hit enter. Much to her chagrin, there appeared on the screen a message that in order to view that episode she had to pay $2.99.

What? Pay $2.99 to see a show that was free in the first place? “They must be kidding,” she thought. But no siree, they weren’t. With a bit of sleuthing, she discovered that NBC wasn’t the only one putting a price for on-demand features — it seems the other major networks had also jumped on the scam wagon and were charging.

Really, as if a hefty monthly price for the privilege of watching television is not enough, the networks still have the nerve to charge for old shows? Wow, how low does greed go?

Not for Nuthin™, but shouldn’t the concept of free mean free? Right about now, Filo Farnsworth is turning over in his crypt.

Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on E-mail her at
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Oy from Gavolt says:
You want free channels? Get a digital antenna and watch get network channels for free. Want to record and rewatch those shows? Get a DVR. Stop ——ing about having to pay for additional services your cable company provides you as if you're entitled to it.
May 17, 2017, 12:52 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
You obviously were raised after the only thing available was free TV. And then came all the promises of enjoying TV without commercials. I remember cable TV costing only $23 a month, how about you. A nominal fee to get all the free channels and everything else, commercial free. And just like everything else we got screwed. Now we're hooked on 800 channels and nothing to watch. And when we see something we want to watch, 22 minutes of that show are commercials and we're still paying for it.
Think about it Oy, 33% of the cable bill you are paying for is for people to advertise to sell you something.
You don't think we have a right to complain?
May 17, 2017, 9:18 pm
Oy from Gavolt says:
Commercials pay for production of the show. You're paying your cable company is paying for the transmission of the show. Commercials have always existed in network television, they were just included in the program - the host would sell you the crap instead of a fancy mini-movie. If you bought the lie of commercial free television, you have no one to blame but yourself. You also have no obligation to pay for the transmission, because you can purchase a digital antennae, nor are you obligated to pay for the 800 channels of nothing to watch. Quit your moaning because you sound like a bunch of goddamn communists, wanting to get everything for free!
May 17, 2017, 10:22 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
you're right commercials do pay for the show but that's not what was presented to us 20 years ago. HBO doesn't have commercials because your subscription pays for it and that was the understanding with the rest of the TV shows back then.
May 18, 2017, 1:08 pm

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