No footie for me

I’m not a big football fan, to be honest, but I do usually try to catch the England games during the World Cup – or at least any that are shown at sensible times.

Not so much this year, though. The first match was played against the USA at the weekend, and broadcast in the early evening on a terrestrial channel (ITV1) here in the UK. I was in the house, and wasn’t doing anything else in particular. Yet still I didn’t watch it.

Or more to the point, still I couldn’t watch it.

Way back in February I wrote about how the transmitter upgrade in Oxford had resulted in almost all my Freeview channels becoming unwatchable as they had switched to a reserve transmitter. Judging by how shy it is about broadcasting to the world, perhaps it should be re-branded as a “reserved” transmitter.

Back then the work was due to be finished by April.

That date slipped. Next it was due to be finished by May.

Then the transmitter caught light. No, really. No TV at all for a few hours, not even the few channels that had been working. It seems that the reserve transmitter was left intact, though, as our limited reception had resumed by the following evening.

Of course fires cause damage. In this case sufficient damage that a whole new antenna had to be commissioned. And that takes time.

So we’re stuck with little more than the main BBC channels until the end of September. If I’d known it would be that long, I would have signed up to cable or satellite for a year. As it is, I’m going to grin and bear it for a while longer, and thank the gods of bittorrent that I know how to download the episodic serials we watch, and the devs of MythTV that I know how to play them on the telly.

Assuming the September deadline is accurate (and my money’s on it overrunning) then I will have been on a limited TV service for 8 months. There’s no recompense for that. There’s no rebate in the TV license (which arguably wouldn’t apply anyway, as I can still receive the BBC channels). But worse than all that, there was no widely broadcast warning that the works were due to take place – leading me to initially think my house’s aerial needed work. There was no leaflet sent to the households in affected areas. And there was no update sent out when the fire resulted in a further 5 month delay to the work.

And what the hell sort of “reserve” antenna have they got up there? A bent coat-hanger? A piece of wet string? If it doesn’t come anywhere close to replicating the job of the main antenna, in what way is it a reserve?

At least I’m not a huge footie fan. But I bet Virgin and Sky will have seen a particularly large surge in subscribers from the area around Oxford in the past few weeks.