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Frank Gray

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Overkill on infomercials

Cable television a lot like junk mail

Somebody dropped by my house the other day trying to sell me cable television.

I am not the person to speak to about cable TV in my home.

The salesperson offered what was said to be a good deal on cable and wanted to know what I’m paying now. I had no idea. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure what cable provider we had.

I didn’t know how long we’ve had our current cable provider, but it wasn’t too long. All I remember is that when the guy installed it, it wasn’t snowing, so we got it either last spring or last summer.

I mentioned that I think we have a contract. The salesperson said this company didn’t require a contract. That’s good, I said, but if we have a contract, I wouldn’t be able to buy their cable anyway.

Eventually the person went away and I sat down and started scrolling through the various channels we have.

I don’t know how many channels we get, but there are a bunch of them, hundreds, but as I flipped through from one channel to the next, I became particularly aware of one thing.

A huge number of the channels we get are infomercial channels.

There’s a channel that seems to advertise the Shark vacuum cleaner all day long. In fact, there are several channels advertising the Shark vacuum, not just one, not even two, but three or four. They’re really pushing those vacuum cleaners hard.

There are several channels that sell the same hair care products, and exercise products, cooking products, diet programs and so on. If you don’t want to buy a countertop cooker from channel 135, you can buy the same thing from, presumably, the same person on channel 153.

There’s a jewelry channel that sells jewelry all day long. It doesn’t look like the kind of jewelry I would want or that anybody I might buy jewelry for would want.

There’s a coin channel. They peddle all kinds of coins, like complete sets of state quarters and stuff like that. I wouldn’t buy any of their coins, though. I collected coins as a kid so I know that those state coins will probably never be worth much more than 25 cents each. There’s even a knife channel. That’s all they sell, knives, fancy knives, utilitarian knives, hunting knives, fishing knives. A knife collector would probably go bonkers watching that channel, but I don’t collect knives. In fact, I don’t collect anything anymore.

Except, it seems, infomercial channels.

I remember when cable TV first caught on. At first you could get perhaps a dozen channels, and then 20, and then 50

Now, I must get at least 100 channels alone that focus on one particular product all day long, and I’m paying for them. It’s sort of like paying for junk mail, when you think about it.

One of these days I might be able to wean myself off of cable and those scores of channels trying to sell me things.

It will have to wait, though. I’ve got a contract – I think.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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