Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Flying Blind

Perhaps our fellow Marylanders don't realize this, but Comcast Cable no longer provides Maryland television stations to subscribers in the Maryland counties that border the District of Columbia.

What does this mean? Well, the only news of Maryland we now receive comes from television stations located out of state--in Washington, DC and Virginia. Consider for a moment the impact if Comcast were to provide say, only the Philadelphia TV stations for their Baltimore subscribers.

If you are unfamiliar with their output, DC television stations seem to think that they are broadcasters to the world. In addition to local car crashes, house fires, and gunplay; the DC stations all carry international car crashes, house fires, and gunplay.

Driven by the tiresome "if it bleeds it leads" formula, the portion of DC television news currently devoted to citizenship information is dwindling and the Maryland portion of that information has become infinitesimal.

I except here weather reporting. Tailored to capture that portion of the viewing audience weary of partisan rancor, DC weather reporting rises to the Ph.D. level. Nevermind that weather is generally of no consequence in the Mid-Atlantic states (moderate semi-maritime climate); DC weather is reported with the gravity normally associated with a Papal visit.

But I digress--here's the problem: we residents of Prince George's and Montgomery counties are Ehrlich-deprived, Steele-deficient, and in general get as much news of Annapolis as we get of the inner workings of Uzbekistan's Oliy Majlis (parliament).

Why is this?

About two years ago, Comcast dropped from our local lineup WMAR-2 (ABC), WBAL-11 (NBC), and WJZ-13 (CBS). They also dropped WNUV-54 (WB), WBFF-45 (FOX), and WUTB-24 (UPN). I suppose the reasoning was that all of these Maryland-based stations essentially duplicate the programming of their network brethren in DC.

Plus, dropping Baltimore stations freed up Comcast bandwidth for more infomercials, home shopping, quack doctors, and hillbilly televangelists, all of which fork over upfront cash money to reach out and bilk us gullible rubes.

I am here to tell you that there is one thing that the DC stations do NOT provide--that is, news of Maryland from a Maryland point of view--no Stan Stoval, no Don and Marty, no Vic and Denise, no Marybeth and Del.

I don't mean to imply that any of the aforementioned Baltimore news readers challenge H.L. Mencken's place in the history books. However, from a DC news director's perspective, College Park is just another sports venue, Maryland politicians are indistinguishable from a thousand other local pols, and we Marylanders are little more than a picturesque bunch of seafood eaters.

Where is Michael Olesker now that we really need him?

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