John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

You can take the Sky from me

When I moved into my current flat (2004), I had Sky installed. That's partly because I don't have access to a TV aerial, so installing a dish was the only way for me to watch any TV at all, but mainly so that I could keep up with new episodes of the various TV series I watched (since they came to Sky before terrestrial). I got a Sky+ box, which lets me record stuff to its hard drive: that's been quite useful, particularly the "series link" option.

Every so often a Sky box will say "no signal" when you turn it on, so you have to unplug it from the mains and wait for a couple of minutes before you reconnect it. That's not so bad if it only happens every few months, but it's now pretty much a daily event on my box. This is then messing up the timed recordings, and I've found that sometimes I can view/record one channel but not another. So, I've now missed the first two episodes of Stargate Universe (season 2), along with the first episode of House (season 7).

Meanwhile, I've found that I watch a lot less TV than I used to, mainly because I'm busy. Between work and SJA, I'm out almost every day, and several evenings each week. When I am here, I have other things to do, so I typically just use the TV as a radio (music channels). I have some programs stored on the Sky+ box which I recorded months (or years) ago, but haven't watched yet. I remember an old Sky advert that said "Do less, watch more". I commend their honesty, but I'd prefer the opposite way around!

Also, the programs which I used to really enjoy have now ended. A few years ago, I said that Battlestar Galactica was absolutely the best program on TV, no contest. However, it got quite bleak by the end, so I haven't bothered watching Caprica. Similarly, Stargate Atlantis was reliably fun, and that's a quality which is missing from Stargate Universe; it started out by emulating the worst parts of Voyager, and ended season 1 in much the same way, so I'm not particularly fussed about missing season 2. I like House, but I'm not in any desperate hurry to watch the new episodes, so I can just wait to rent the DVDs. The main thing I look forward to on TV nowadays is Doctor Who. Since that's on the BBC, I don't need to pay Sky to watch it.

I've also noticed an increasing trend for films to get censored on TV. For instance, the intro to Ghostbusters (in the library) got shorter every time I saw it; that's understandable, because it was a bit scary (when I was 10), but I'd rather watch the full version on DVD. However, I've also seen bits chopped out of Kindergarten Cop and Mannequin, and neither of them is exactly a video nasty! I don't think that the excised content was essential to the plot, so the films wouldn't have been any worse off if they hadn't included it originally, but it's a bit jarring when it gets taken out later.

Looking at all that, I figured that I had two options:
1) I could pay more, by replacing my Sky+ box or taking out a support contract.
2) I could pay less, by cancelling my Sky package altogether.
I opted for 2), although I had to spend 25 minutes on the phone, "haggling" with the sales rep before he'd actually put through the cancellation. In fairness, he did offer some generous discounts (half-price TV for 6 months or a Sky+ HD box for £44), but I wasn't interested.

In the short term, I think that I can continue watching the free channels with my Sky box/card, at least until the next time they change the card format. In the longer term, I'll get a Freesat box, which should work with my existing Sky dish. Meanwhile, I'll be saving £20/month.
Tags: films, tv

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