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The Decline of TV Guide

by Neena Louise

TV Guide was a mainstay in my household for years. Since I was a child, I anticipated the arrival of this magazine every week, eagerly waiting to tear into it and read it cover-to-cover. This year, despite the repeated "renewal notices" (each promising a better deal, though all seven were for the same price), I won't be renewing.

What has happened to TV Guide? It has failed miserably to move with the times and has, instead, gone backwards. I don't watch soaps. Or teen angst. Or much sci-fi. I absolutely despise that smarmy Martha Stewart. That about sums up an average TV Guide issue (the word "puff-piece" comes to mind when I think of most TV Guide articles). How I long for the days in the late '70s and early '80s when there were actually some fascinating articles - not just sugary pieces about TV personalities. In this information age, celebrity stories/gossip are everywhere, so I hardly think TV Guide would be a first-choice source. I still wonder what new video releases have to do with television, and their "What's On" column highlights only one or two programs, leaving me wondering what the point of the column is, anyway. If I want to know what's on I'll (duh) look at the listings. If I want highlights, I'll read Entertainment Weekly or go to the Internet.

Another problem is that, with so many channels to choose from (in my area it's possible to receive 75 through the local cable company) and TV Guides that are issued by region rather than community, there are dozens of channels listed that I will never be able to receive, no matter how much I might want them. Additionally, the channel guides are often so sorely outdated that they confuse me rather than inform me. Trying to weed out the channels I'll never get, flipping to the back or the grids where listings for some channels I DO get are delegated, and losing my place in the process makes the listings section an excercise in frustration (I actually threw one issue across the room in disgust). There has been rumor that TV Guide will no longer even have listings and will become, instead, a TV information magazine. What a joke! The only reason I even subscribed in the first place was for the detailed listings. Since they have become so muddled, I no longer have a use for such a rag.

I've turned to the newspaper's TV magazine supplement for the first time since I was a young child. I was surprised and pleased that it is leaps and bounds better for planning one's TV viewing than the expensive TV Guide. They list only the channels I can receive in my area; the listings are complete with descriptions and an indication of whether or not it's a repeat; the prime-time grids are placed close to the prime-time listings (rather than smack-dab in the middle of the afternoon's listings like TV Guide's are). And it's free. Sure the articles are pretty poor, but I don't get it for the articles, after all.

It's really too bad that TV Guide has deteriorated to such a degree. I actually had some real regret not renewing my subscription, but why pay for something that's aggravating and useless?  
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