The Futility of Freeview

By January 2, 2004No Comments

The Futility of Freeview
Sky needed sorting out. It really did. It was everywhere, its owner Rupert Murdoch had bought all the competition, and no rival company had stood a chance. Challengers were needed, and the first to step up was OnDigital – a service that to everyone’s dismay was only bought by anti-monopolists and patriotic tv watchers everywhere (it was BRITISH you know, none of the American/Australian rubbish). Sadly, everyone else didn’t buy one, and it died a death. ITV Digital rose from its ashes, and fronted its media campaign with a fat man and a stuffed monkey. It also, predictably, died a death.
Freeview, therefore, was a breath of fresh air. Here was something that you only paid for once; something that was owned by a huge corporation, and something that gave you all the channels you needed, with the minimum of fuss.
With all this in mind, Michelle and I popped off to Comet the other day to set about buying one. The helpful shop assistant gave us the Freeview Customer Service number; we dialled it. An automated voice asked for our postcode, and amazingly understood my shouted letters and numbers against the hubbub of Comet’s shop floor. “You have a good signal!” it announced happily, and immediately cut me off. Puzzled, I asked that shop assistant what I should do next.
“Well, sir, there’s no guaranteeing you’ve got a good enough signal for it to work, despite what it says”, he said. “The only way you can do that is to buy it for ?100 and install it.”
“I see,” I countered, “and if it doesn’t work, I can bring it back?”
“No, sir, we don’t accept returns of Freeview boxes. You could have a site check from Freeview costing ?34. And then a new aerial for ?80. Plus fitting.”
The word “Free” plainly has no place in the name Freeview. And here we hit the futility of it all. You can’t be sure you can receive Freeview until you’ve gone and spent ?100 on it. If it doesn?t work, you can’t return it, and your only hope is to spend an extra ?150 on surveys and aerials.
Not exactly great competition for Sky, is it…

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