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Save Money on TV
by Joe Reynolds

The average home today probably pays double or more for cable TV and internet than what we paid for a home back around 1965. A two-story, brand new, three-bedroom, corner brick rowhome mortgage set us back about $100 a month. This included principal, interest, fire insurance, and real estate taxes. Today, lots of folks are shelling out $200 or more just for TV and internet. In 1965 there was only free TV and it came into one's home via a rooftop antenna. The airwaves delivered ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Interestingly, those same channels plus Fox Network and Public Television are still available free over the airwaves, even in Ocean Pines.

Ocean Pines Association Declarations of Restrictions do not allow rooftop antennas. However, the restriction is meaningless, overridden by federal law. FCC rule (47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000) has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

The FCC says, "Local rules or regulations that require a person to obtain a permit or approval prior to installation create unreasonable delay and are generally prohibited." You can even mount an antenna on a mast up to 12 feet high on your roof if needed to acquire signals of local channels. See the following FCC web page:  

I purchased a $40 RCA antenna from Home Depot, mounted it on a second-floor deck rail, pointed it in the proper direction, ran a cable to my primary living room TV, and had access to over 10 free HD television channels, including WTOP, WRDE, WMDT, PBS, and Fox 21. A free iPhone app called "Antenna Point" does the "pointing" job, giving you the perfect direction to Salisbury transmission towers.

This provides local channel TV to one TV, representing absolutely the least expensive way to watch local network and PBS television. FREE. You will probably want more. There are various possible solutions. I chose to purchase an Apple TV for each television set at $140 a pop, and one Tablo Quad DVR at around $250. This setup allows me to view local channels live or record as many as four different programs at a time. Live TV or viewing recorded shows is done wirelessly via a wi-fi connection from the Tablo Quad to any Apple TV box connected to any TV in the house -- no wires required. The Tablo even has a provision to auto-skip commercials when viewing many recorded programs.

Also, note that the Apple TV connected to each TV in the home allows access to Netflix and a vast variety of paid and free television. There is even an Apple TV app to access movies from the Worcester County Libray - free. The Apple TV, or a similar streaming device, requires internet access, thus one cannot avoid Mediacom entirely at this point if quality streaming is desired.

The antenna installation may be an issue for many Ocean Pines folks. The simplest solution is to call Dish Network.

CordcutterNews says, "No longer do you need to worry about running cables into your house or making sure an outdoor antenna is properly installed because DISH will do all that for you starting at $99.99. To have an antenna installed, call 1-888-364-6055. (Make sure to call that number. Calling the main DISH number will likely end up with someone trying to sell you a DISH TV package.)"

Back to the Apple TV -- there are three or more apps that will provide you with access to nearly all the normal cable channels you like, such as all the cable news channels, as well as all local network channels out of Salisbury. We chose the app from Playstation-Vue by Sony. Monthly cost is $50 and includes DVR service. YouTube TV offers a similar service at $50 but does not offer the Hallmark Channel. At our home, there were two requirements -- Fox News and the Hallmark Channel. DirecTV has a streaming service called DirecTV NOW offering both but does not offer local channels in Ocean Pines as yet. If you can do without the cable news channels, you can find deals as low as $20 a month.

I went with both an antenna and a full streaming service with local and cable channels. I wanted to know I always had the access to locals via an antenna for free, but also everything cable TV or DirecTV satellite provided at substantial savings. Bottom line for you may be a monthly payment savings of $100 or more a month. In any cost savings, note that there may be zero monthly cost for antenna-only TV but you will still need Mediacom or another internet service to use an Apple TV or other streaming devices if you decide to switch from cable or satellite to streaming service. You should factor in a monthly internet cost of about $80.

Happy "cord-cutting," even if the cord can never truly be cut.

Uploaded: 7/22/2019