Cable companies battle thieves - consumer loses

By Bradley MacKinnon
Cole Harbour Regional High
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Oh what a Body Slam, and another vicious clothesline. If you have never heard these terms before, they are used in wrestling, the greatest form of entertainment today (in my humble opinion).

Pro-Wrestling has become one of the biggest moneymakers in North America and the cable company is in on the deal. These cable companies have made millions of dollars off loyal wrestling fans (like myself) through pay-per-view broadcasts. Don't get me wrong -- they are giving me a service and I'm giving them money for that. The problem I had was when I got cut off.

Let me start at the beginning. Late last year, my local cable company decided that they would no longer carry any pay-per-views, which meant that they would no longer have wrestling. I couldn't believe it. They have made millions off of pay-per-view. Oh yeah, what is pay-per-view? Well, it means that you give the cable company money and they will give you the event you pay for. Not a bad deal but back to the point.

My local cable company buys a package of pay-per-view events from a larger company in Southern Ontario. This company buys the rights to the events and sells them back to the small cable companies as a package. My local company did not pick up the package. Why, oh why, did they cut us off?

Well, the answer that I got was that they were not making enough money. So the price that it cost them to buy the package and then sell it back to their customers was not making them enough money. This is a load of, well you know. They sell these events for 30 dollars each, plus you have to rent their equipment, and that costs a dollar a day. It could cost you 37 dollars (plus tax) to get this a week in advance. As well, to avoid not getting a box, sometimes you may have to rent them up to three weeks early, which could cost you more than 50 dollars.

Basically, the truth is that there was a battle going on with a thief and the cable company. This was one that my local cable company was losing. You see that there is a device out there known as a "black box". This device was sold in stores over 15 years ago but now became illegal. This "black box" works under the same system as the equipment that the cable company has. The main difference is that this will steal pay per-view-channels at zero cost. The cable company had no way to stop this act so they cut everyone off.

Let me sum it up for you: my cable company couldn't come up with a way to stop this massive theft so they punish everyone. Don't get me wrong -- I don't condone theft but I don't condone punishing the innocent either.

So who wins in this situation? The bars do. All the local bars have satellites so they now all have pay-per-views twice a month and make five dollars a head plus whatever . As well, satellite companies are the only people that can give an "at home" service. So now they have the market cornered and will make a fortune. Well who loses? Under-19 wrestling fans do. I'm among those who don't have a satellite and can't get into the bars. So for now, there will be no pay-per-views for me.

In the end, the cable company has alienated many of their loyal customers. They have taken away wrestling from many hard core fans (like myself). When will it come back? When they can stop the "black boxes". However, this is impossible. Since I'm going to be 19 in about a year, for me the frustration ends in 365 days. For everyone else, you have my pity. I can only hope that by some miracle, the wrestling corporations or someone else with empathy for this situation and do something about it. In the mean time, wrestling fans will have to watch the shows on regular TV and wait to watch pay-per-views on video (three or four months late).

Finally if a wrestling fan reads this and feels my pain: write a letter, let your voice be heard, and make a difference. With enough of us, change can happen. You just have to believe.