Why did the 16APSK mux at 97°W 3980H disappear?

If you have read some of my previous posts you may have discerned that I am no big fan of any of the free-to-air satellite forums out there. In my opinion most of those sites are run by people who make up arbitrary rules that do not apply equally to all users, and also at least some of them exist specifically to further someone’s commercial interests, and if you happen to say anything negative about a product sold by the dealer that runs the site or another “favored” dealer, you may find that your posts silently disappear, and you may even be banned from the forum. And, if you have been on multiple free-to-air satellite forums, you may have noticed that there is a lot of bad blood between the operators of some of the competing forums (probably in part because some of them are business competitors trying to grab a slice of an ever-shrinking pie). Therefore anything you read on these forums about another forum, particularly if it’s negative commentary, has to be taken with a few grains of salt.

So with that caveat, when the 16APSK mux at 97°W 3980H disappeared earlier this month, some guys in a “hidden” forum on the SatelliteGuys site (note that link will only work if you have been granted access to that forum, and log in to the site) started remarking how coincidental it was that shortly after some other posts had been made on another site, including one where someone had said he was going to contact the uplinker of those channels (a HUGE no-no for anyone that cares about free-to-air satellite), the mux in question disappeared (you can read this thread for more commentary). I’m sorry that I cannot quote specific posts from the SatelliteGuys thread, but it is against their rules to share information on that particular forum outside of the forum, for good reasons.

If I am reading it correctly, the allegation seems to be that a particular dealer, possibly in part because of a long-running feud with the operators of the SatelliteGuys site and some other sites, but mostly because he is selling a rather unattractive package of subscription channels and because few people were buying his package, wanted to see that 16APSK mux go away because he thought people were watching the “free” channels rather than paying him. Now if that is true, my opinion is that if he’d been selling a package of desirable channels at a reasonable price he might have had enough business to satisfy him, but no matter what else may or may not be available, few people are going to buy a package of channels if it doesn’t contain the channels people really want to watch. And also, he probably has lost a lot more business to devices like the Roku and FireTV, and similar Internet-connected devices, and to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. than he’ll ever lose to people watching free satellite channels.

Now, my view from up here in the balcony while munching the popcorn over the last few years has been that the guy offering this service has managed to piss off a lot of people in the free-to-air community. When the thread appeared on SatelliteGuys I was not even sure at first which forum they were talking about, because it had been so long since I’d been to that forum, and one of the reasons I’d stopped visiting there was because of the lack of useful information and because of what I felt to be mudslinging and venom directed at various parties. I’m not saying that none of it was deserved, because I don’t know everything that happens behind the scenes. But apparently this forum is sponsored or in some way linked with the guy selling the subscription service. Anyway, it seemed to me as though a high percentage of threads there were bashing somebody and while sometimes the bashing seemed valid (in that it discussed some of the shortcomings and biases of other sites), it sure did not seem like a very helpful site for the average satellite hobbyist, at least not compared to some of the other sites they were bashing.

One thing I did notice, and honestly felt somewhat offended by, was the notion put forth in some of the posts on that forum that if you want to watch free satellite TV you are a cheapskate, or a pirate, or in some way doing something illegal, and of course nothing could be further from the truth – if it’s not encrypted, you’re allowed to watch it, period (also, I have sunk a lot of money into equipment for this hobby, but that’s beside the point). What I feel would be despicable, though, would be if someone tried to sabotage free satellite TV just because they believed it might help them sell their own package of fairly undesirable channels. I cannot say for sure that is what happened, because I don’t know who was uplinking those channels, or what was the actual motivation that caused them to discontinue the uplink. But that post I linked above sure does not make me want to do business with the company mentioned in the signature block. Personally, and this is just me, I would never do business with that company as long as I live, no matter what they might offer in the future. I am not telling anyone else what to do, but in my opinion anyone who tries to ruin the hobby of receiving free and legal satellite television by contacting an uplinker is not deserving of my business.

Since no one knows for sure why those channels were on the satellite to begin with, no one knows for sure why they disappeared, except of course for the people responsible for the uplink, and so far they aren’t talking. It may have been something completely unrelated, such as a one-year contract that expired and was not renewed. But just the fact that someone might TRY to get those channels removed or encrypted in order to advance their own narrow business interests, whether or not those efforts actually bore any fruit, is enough to lower my opinion of them to the degree that they will never get a penny from me.

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