In 1963, the FCC made almost all land mobile (two-way FM radio) radio equipment obsolete when they mandated new channel spacing and FM deviation standards to make more efficient use of the radio spectrum. Users had to buy new radios that complied with the new standards, at their own expense.
The government didn't take anything away from you. It has no obligation to compensate anyone for hardware that has become obsolete or useless due to new laws and regulations. This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened.
The sad part is all the people who get crippled by playing high school and college sports, motivated by the very unlikely prospect of a professional career. They are cannon fodder for a system that makes big profits for the schools and TV networks, and does little for the athlete.
It isn't the cost of the box, it's the generation of the chipset. The latest chipsets do a much better job of handling multipath. So a cheap box with a current chipset may trounce older and more expensive boxes.
I'd be interested in how the American soap operas compare to their counterparts in other countries. From what I've read, telenovelas are very popular in Latin America. When I lived in Hawaii, a local TV station used to play a Samurai soap opera series from Japan.