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Absence of TV Sparks Health Concerns

As many as 2 million American households were left with no television reception following the June 12 digital transition, according to Nielsen estimates derived from a show of hands. Another 20 million—give or take 19 million—lost access to favorite channels when station signals moved into spectrum monitored by beings from the planet Splugorg. These extraterrestrials are thought to be absorbing the signals and transmuting them into ratings for "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," which now comprises NBC's entire primetime schedule.

Consequently, millions of Americans are not exposed to the spectacle that gives new meaning to the word, "celebrity." Neither are they catching "CSI," "Bones," "Don't Forget the Lyrics," and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." They are not seeing the disaster-filled shotgun prattle that represents news, nor the caterwauling buffoons who purport to analyze it.

And yet… TV ratings are merely one of several commodities at risk from the disenfranchisement of broadcast-dependent households. A mountain of research links television with obesity, sleep deprivation, stunted brain development and violent behavior. Thus the balance of fat, tired, stupid, mean people in the society is at risk, not to mention the army of researchers who manage to blame such character traits on TV.

The federal government is working very diligently on appearing to restore television reception to the homes left behind, though officials may be too late. Published viral e-mails indicate many people liberated from television have already discovered an ancient practice known as "reading," by which they decipher words inscribed on pages. As a result, these people are more inclined to question what they previously absorbed in the form of "news." The disenfranchised are going outside, where they are less inclined to consume food out of rote boredom and are losing weight. These same folks have noticed on their new nightly forays that what they encounter is decidedly different from the burning car wreckage, mass-murdering, weepy-affair- confessing, Wall Street felon-filled, imminent death warning that is the evening news. Anecdotal evidence suggests that fewer and fewer are strapping on Uzis before leaving the house.

The danger of the situation is clear. Obesity, violence and stupidity are pillars of the American culture. Even the smallest disruption to the balance of these qualities in the populace can lead to slightly higher expectations for everyone. When expectations rise, mediocrity is displaced. When mediocrity is displaced, hemlines rise, families come apart, sea levels climb and TV executives are forced to come up with shows worth watching.

Up next: "I'm an FCC Commissioner, Get Me Out of Here!"

– Deborah D. McAdams