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Over the last several years amidst the growing number of private use satellite dishes, an issue came up where the local affiliates were perturbed that Western New York residents were watching network feeds from other cities rather than Buffalo. About a year ago after much lobbying, it came to pass that if you lived within a legitimate distance from your local affiliate, the program provider could not sell you network programming at all.

I have basically two problems with this. If I want to pay to get something, why should anyone be able to tell me I cannot do this? Buying and selling is what makes our economy work. Limiting me to one option is actually the definition of MONOPOLY. Last time I checked that was not legal. AT&T was broken up and they are still trying to dismantle Microsoft. Yet our little local stations have skirted what the behemoths could not avoid. Now in and of itself you might say, what's the difference? They all show the same things anyway. Wrong. And this brings me to my second point.

Recently, CBS carried the 76th running of the Hambletonian. To those not a fan of the sport, this is the biggest race of the year for trotters and is equivalent to the Kentucky Derby for thoroughbreds. This was to be aired between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Now let me see, what was on channel 4 (our local CBS affiliate) between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.? Infomercials. Yes that staple of local broadcasting - Ron Popiel spray painting somebody's bald spot and George Foreman making hamburgers.

This is what local TV has to offer. This is why they won't let you choose to buy programming from another city, so they can make money selling air time for useless products being pushed by "experts in their fields" using fake English accents. Orange juice wood polish, the "Braidini," and the "Hollywood Diarrhea Diet" in a bottle. (Ten pounds in two days. Bring a lot of reading material.)

I am sick and tired of this garbage being presented day and night. These program directors have no consideration for the viewing public. Network television is going downhill fast as viewership of cable channels like the History Channel and Discovery keeps increasing. It would seem that it's not the networks themselves to blame, but the local affiliates. The network is providing diversified programming. It does have consideration for likes and interests of the public. But the local stations can show what they want. And that is obviously not what their viewers want to see. I have never once heard anyone say, "Grab the popcorn Marge, we have six hours of paid programming coming right up!"

Now I know not everyone likes harness racing or even cares if it gets aired or not. But simply put your own favorite event in its place and think of the last time the network scheduled something you wanted to see and the local station didn't show it. NASCAR, golf, this happens all the time. It is hitting home now as football fans are being fed a steady diet of games you could care less about. Giants at 1 p.m., Jets at 4 p.m. Oh, I would much rather watch the fifth place Patriots than anything else.

So your obvious remark would be, "If you don't like what's on, don't watch!" And your absolutely correct. Personally, I do not watch channels 2, 4, or 7. And the main reason is what I just explained above. In life, everyone has choices to make and options to exercise. That is mine. I won't do business with anyone who tries to force their hand. And my friends, that is what is happening here.

TIMOTHY L. BOJARSKI lives in Akron.

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