By Don Lindich
Week 1, 2021
Q. Did you know that Mediacom subscribers have been shut out of watching NBC? Mediacom is in a dispute with TEGNA, and ironically this happened after they raised my rates about 20%. My cost for TV and Internet service (I have a dumbed-down package, far from the most expensive) has gone up 100% in less than 4 years!
It is ridiculous that we do not get a major network like NBC, especially after all these price increases. No Sunday Night Football, I guess.
-A.P., Orono, MN
A. Disputes between media companies and cable and satellite providers are relatively common, with both sides complaining and pointing fingers at the other for their inability to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. It is my experience that these disputes are resolved over time (usually a few weeks at most) and the channels return, but it is viewers who pay the price as they miss their favorite programming as prices keep going up.
You can watch NBC for free with an antenna, and that is what I suggest you do. If you go to antennaweb.org and enter your zip code the site will recommend the proper antenna for your area, as well as list the distance from and direction to the transmitting towers. For your zip code 55356 a medium-sized, directional outdoor antenna is recommended. This will likely cost several hundred dollars professionally installed, and I consider it a worthwhile investment because it will protect you again future outages from your cable company, at least for major networks. You can try an indoor antenna first to see if it can do the job. The $119 Antop AT-500SBS and the $75 Antennas Direct ClearStream MAX-V indoor/outdoor antenna with optional stand would give you a good chance of tuning the signal in your location.
Given your frustration in the cable bill vs. value received it sounds like you may be close to cutting the cord. An antenna pulling in lots of channels will make that a lot easier to do. I have a few friends who were shocked at how many channels they could get with their antenna, and combined with a few streaming services they don’t miss cable at all. The streaming service subscriptions can certainly add up, but they already had Amazon Prime for shipping, and their $12.99 Disney+ bundle with Hulu and ESPN+, combined with $13.99 Standard Netflix and $14.99 HBO Max keeps them under $50 per month for all the programming they want.
Tribit StormBox Micro promotion update: I received numerous reader emails stating the $10 discount code for the StormBox Micro speaker did not work. Tribit has acknowledged a problem with the code and to simplify things they have changed it to a $10 checkbox coupon, bringing the price down to $39.99. The deal is available on amazon.com until January 24.
If you did not see the original column about the speaker, it comes with my highest recommendation for its sound and versatility and includes a strong strap for securing to backpacks and bicycle handlebars.
ZVOX AV100 Mini TV Speaker: Another noteworthy deal is the ZVOX AV100 for $99, reduced from $169. The AV100 is a tiny version of a ZVOX TV speaker with surprisingly big, loud sound and six levels of AccuVoice boost. If the AV157 for $199 was more than you wanted to spend or you would like a smaller television speaker to use with a bedroom TV or a computer monitor, this is your chance.