DTV: What if I have cable or satellite TV?

You were not directly affected by the DTV switch..

If you already get cable TV or satellite service, your provider managed the DTV switch for you, in return for your monthly bill.

However, if you're thinking about switching from free TV to cable in order to simplify the switch, you should consider that decision carefully. Comcast is heavily promoting its cable service, suggesting that it offers an easy solution to the DTV transition. Those offers are a bit misleading, however.

Comcast plans to make changes to its "expanded basic" service later in 2009, forcing subscribers to choose between losing channels or installing additional digital equipment. Plus, attractive, introductory subscriber rates are likely to increase over time.

DTV will provide numerous cable-like benefits, including clearer pictures, closed captioning, onscreen schedule guides, and a limited number of extra channels, all for free. The only cost to you may be an inexpensive digital converter box – and the government will provide your household with up to two coupons good for $40 off the cost of a box (call 888-DTV-2009 or visit to order your coupons).

If your cable or satellite TV service ever goes out, you will be unable to view local channels unless you have a digital-ready TV or a converter box.

One more thing: You should order DTV converter box coupons whether you need them or not. You can give them to friends who are less on-the-ball than you, or donate them - People living in institutions, group houses or prisons may have difficulty acquiring coupons, and will rely on your generosity.


Cable: the "other" DTV transition

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