TV Q&A: 'Storage Wars' + DirecTV + E! in HD

Friday, 08 July 2011 12:00 AM Written by 

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Storage Wars,” DirecTV and E! In HD.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: The A&E hit show “Storage Wars” shows people buying storage lockers with good results. Are there any places in the Pittsburgh area doing the same? I've heard a few people say that “Storage Wars” is staged and there is no way there [are] good [resalable] items in those storage lockers. Does A&E check these shows before they become a "reality" show?

- Bryan, 46, Bethel Park

Rob: I’m not aware of any place in Pittsburgh staging such auctions but storage units aren’t really my area of expertise so if someone knows of any, email me and I’ll get a mention in next week’s TV Q&A.

As for the TV show, an A&E publicist said, “There is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.”


Q: This is not a question about any TV show. In your June 24 column you mentioned you are a DirecTV subscriber. As an unhappy Comcast subscriber I am looking into alternatives and unfortunately Verizon will never be available in my area. I realize you may not be able to answer this question but I got nothing to lose by asking. Are you happy with DirecTV? And do you have any complaints? OK that is really two questions.

- Jim, 54, Plum
I’m hesitant to offer a rave because I think everyone tends to have a different experience with these cable providers. But I’m happy to describe my experience.

My beginning with DirecTV was inauspicious. The company’s literature did not make clear that a basic box does not work with the multi-room DVR and I’d had a basic box put in my home office. DirecTV resolved that issue to my satisfaction. But an installer had to come out on three or four different occasions because one thing after another went wrong technically with the satellite reception and distribution to set-top boxes in the house. Eventually the system was set up properly and I’ve had little technical difficulty since.

The DirecTV user interface is much better than what I had with Comcast when I quit that service last summer. Using the DVR is easier and less frustrating and the channel guide has a better graphic presentation. It’s also easier to search for TV shows by title. And I like my ability to set the DVR when I’m away from home by logging into the DirecTV website.

My bill is lower – but I’m still in the lower-priced honeymoon period so I don’t expect that to last – and I find it easier to add and subtract premium channels.

There are trade-offs. With Comcast you get local channels (digital subchannels from local broadcast stations like ME-TV or THIS-TV or WQED’s Neighborhood Channel and local channels like PCNC) that you don’t get on DirecTV. But with DirecTV you get original, scripted prime-time programming – a new season of the drama series “Damages” debuts this month only on DirecTV’s Audience Network channel – and that’s more important to me.

I plan to write later this month about Pittsburghers who have cut the cord and go without cable from any provider. If you’re one of those people and would be willing to be interviewed, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Q: I was wondering if the E! channel will soon be going to HD?  If not, why is it so behind the times?

- Angie, 60, Mt. Washington

Rob: If you send a question about a cable provider, you have to tell me which provider you use. I emailed Angie back for clarification and never got a response. According to Comcast spokesman Bob Grove, E! HD is available on Channel 833 in both traditional Comcast and former Adelphia systems

Q: When will FIOS be adding BBC America HD to their channel lineup? I believe the HD version has been available since last year. 
- Brenda, 43, Moon
Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski says, “While we’re constantly soliciting feedback from customers for content addition to FiOS TV, we have no plans at this time to add BBC America HD to the lineup.”

These things are usually decided at the corporate level so my guess is Verizon and BBC America have not come to terms on a monetary agreement for carriage of the HD feed of BBC America.


Q: Have you gotten any comments regarding Comcast's apparently new policy of going into "standby mode" at about 1:15 a.m. every day?  If you don't push a button on your remote, the TV goes to a black screen, leaving the program you have been viewing. This just started happening when Comcast went to its new onscreen guide a few weeks ago. Very annoying!

- Linda, 65, Murrysville

Rob: This is the first I’ve heard of it but apparently it's been an issue for other Comcast DVR customers in other markets as Linda noted in a later e-mail.

“Our new guide in the Murrysville area was launched two months ago, and we have not seen a pattern of customers calling us with similar experiences, nor have we instituted any ‘new policies,’” said Comcast’s Bob Grove. He offered to investigate what’s likely a DVR issue further with Linda directly, which is what often happens when customers experience such anomalies.

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