No political ads for me

Sep 19, 2011

The election season is about to bring something that most everyone likes to complain about: political ads on television.

For me, the problem isn’t the barrage of political ads, it’s the lack of them.

Chances are, if you live in Michigan, you’re different from me.

You’re in.

I’m out.

You will get tons of what you might think are thoroughly obnoxious TV ads about Michigan political races.

Ads that say, "Debbie Stabenow is a big spender," or "Pete Hoekstra is an extremist."

Stuff like that.

And I won’t.

Why?

I live in the southwest corner of the state. Our TV stations come mostly from South Bend, Indiana.

We’re just far enough from Kalamazoo that we can’t get good reception over the airwaves.

So, you might think the answer would be cable, with its magical ability to carry anything from anywhere.

Not so much. I am a cable customer. In fact, I even have a choice between two cable carriers, and even two satellite TV companies.

But not one of them carries a single local station from Michigan.

Here’s why.

The Federal Communications Commission does have a regulation called the "must-carry rule," which means that cable companies have to provide their customers with local stations.

For clarification, I called the FCC.

A very helpful person on the line explained that under the rule, a local station may not necessarily be in your state.

In other words, since my home is located in the local TV market designated by the Nielsen Company, that’s good enough.

The cable carriers are complying with the law, but here’s the deal: in our corner of Michigan, we get a little local TV news, but hardly any statewide coverage.

And as far as political ads go, I can tell you whatever you need to know about Indiana races, but I don’t see any of the slinging mud in Michigan.

"Hooray for me," you might say.

Who wants to see that garbage anyway?

I do.

I know it sounds a little weird, especially that as we approach this election year, these ads can become so non-stop and irritating.

But, particularly on the local level, political ads are defining.

They tell us something about the candidates and the choices they make. They connect you to the fact an election is coming up, and remind you to pay attention.

Now for the record, I have complained to my cable company.

I suspect they won’t do anything, because they don’t want to pay extra fees to Michigan stations and take on the cost of adding them to their line-up.

So in all likelihood, this political season, while you’re suffering through all those Michigan attack ads, remember there are people like me who don’t have them at all.