Charter Cable Gives Free Porn To The Mentally Handicapped

Consumerist Forums reader “1gunit” discovered free porn while channel surfing on his new HDTV. It began when a strange program appeared that started to automatically fast forward itself through what was some presumably boring dialogue. When the program began to play at normal speed, “1gunit” realized he was watching someone else’s “On Demand” porn. How did this happen? His letter, inside…

About a month ago i discovered that i was getting a few unlisted channels on my cable tv. I do not subscribe to “Digital Cable” I get “Extended Basic” (basically all the channels you can get with out the box) one of the 1st shows i came across was a porn and to me and my wifes surprise right after a rather interesting scene it started to fast forward to right passed all of the talking parts. It was then we realized we were watching other peoples “On Demand” shows. It varies from Blues clues to PPV movies to hot girl on girl action
This only happens on my newest tv which gets HDTV channels the Chanel’s in question are in the 107 range..107-1….107-10. I asked about it at my local charter office when paying my bill and after a lot of apologizing and assurances that I was the only one this was happening to (more on that below) they took my number and told me some one would call the next day its been 8 days still no call and I still get free porn.

I went to work the other night (At a group home for mentally handicapped people) and guess what they get the free porn as well

I’m just wondering of anyone else is getting the same thing on there HDTVs. I’m not really complaining I like free porn (even if the jerk with the remote fast forwards through the redheads)but I bet someone a little less open minded than me will freak upon discovering this.

We commend you on your strength of character because most people wouldn’t complain about free porn. For most adults this would be no problem but naturally there are others such as children who should not be able to freely receive adult programming. Since you also observed this phenomenon at work, it must mean that this situation is at least partially widespread. Because you have already reported the problem once with no relief, you should elevate this problem to someone in a higher position and see if they can help you bring a happy ending to this story.


Free porn on my charter cable
[Consumerist Forums]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. PinkBox says:

    He has a Tv Witch?! Whoa!

  2. cronick says:

    I canceled Charter some years ago because they were such incompetent and greedy idiots. Insofar as they are giving away free porn, I may have to reconsider that decision.

  3. heavylee-again says:

    This is happening to friends of mine who live in Baltimore. They discovered it in the same way as this guy and are quite happy with it.

  4. BlackFlag55 says:

    Neville Chamberlain back from German waving his diplomatic charter …. “Free porn in our time!”

    Well, that’s the steampunk version, anway.

  5. weave says:

    That’s pretty common for people who have digital QAM TV tuners. As he figured out, on demand goes over a sub-channel. I’ve seen that with Comcast as well. They sometimes rotate the channels around so if you’re watching someone else’s PPV and it stops, you have to search for it on another sub-channel. They should encrypt it and probably will as more people hook QAM tuners direct to cable (most people will just hook up their new HDTV up to the cable box and not straight to cable so it’s not an issue with them).

  6. pssshwhatever says:

    Well, a few things…

    He’s a dumbass if he invested in an HDTV and has no intention of getting HD programming, which is what it sounds like.

    Also, the tv probably has a digital tuner that picks up the HD signal from his neighbors (over-the-air HD signals ftw!). I have plenty of tech-savvy friends that go out of their way to try and hijack others’ OnDemand and PPV programs, and he probably set his tv to search for those signals without realizing what that setting really meant (it’s easy to set that option and not even realize it when you’re doing the initial programming, particularly in this case since he’s scanning for over-the-air channels).

    So, despite Charter’s ridiculous level of incompetence on most issues, this probably isn’t her fault. They didn’t set your TV.

  7. forgottenpassword says:

    I remember when I first had primestar many years ago I got the playboy channel for roughly 10 hours by mistake.

    I certainly didnt complain about free porn!

  8. @weave: I came here to say basically the same thing.
    With my QAM tuner hooked up to Cablevision, I can view all of the news12 traffic cameras across Long Island, and occasionally watch HowardTV and other OnDemand programming.
    I do have a box though as well, and generally watch that way, so i can see all of my HD channels.

  9. johnwilliams713 says:

    My sister has this same phenomenon. She was clicking through and found that someone had paused the on screen boobs from braveheart. She also came across someone watching Big Black Asses 4 or something. It was pretty funny.

  10. scoosdad says:

    This is nothing new and not anything unique to Charter. Many cable companies send their on-demand programming out over empty unencrypted upper cable channels set aside in their bandwidth for this purpose. Since it’s not there 24/7, most people would never get those channels programmed into their sets unless they happened to scan the channels while something was on there.

    If it really bothers you, the best route would be to file a complaint with your local cable governing body, not with the cable company itself. They don’t care and it’s going to cost them money to encrypt it.

  11. ophmarketing says:

    That happened with my Comcast hookup when I switched over to the HD package a few years ago. It only lasted for a couple of days, though.

  12. scoosdad says:

    @pssshwhatever:

    He’s a dumbass if he invested in an HDTV and has no intention of getting HD programming, which is what it sounds like.

    Excuse me? Are there new TVs for sale today that have digital tuners that don’t also include HDTV capability? Digital TV is not necessarily always in HD, but anyone who buys a set today that is digital-capable but won’t display in HD is just as “dumbass” as investing in an HDTV and having no intention of getting HD programming, as you say. I’m not sure there are even standard definition only, digital-capable sets for sale anymore.

  13. bonzombiekitty says:

    The same thing happens on my tv. If bypass the cable box, a set of digital channels have onDemand feeds from other Comcast users.

    My room mate and I have a game we call “Is it porn?”.

  14. idx says:

    I’ve seen this same thing happen at my friends house in downtown NOLA, only it’s cox cable.

  15. cloudedice says:

    I’ve watched someone watching OnDemand porn before. It was strange because for the entire movie, they were fast forwarding through the sex scenes and watching only the dialog.

  16. Sanveann says:

    @pssshwhatever: Perhaps he gets digital programming over the air. We have an HDTV antenna and, until recently, only had basic cable. We got local channels — which are most of what we watch — in HD and just watched cable in regular definition.

  17. backbroken says:

    @pssshwhatever: I thought we had finally put to rest the assinine ‘you are a dumbass for buying an HDTV if you aren’t paying for HD content from your provider’ argument.

    And again, you don’t ‘invest’ in a TV.

  18. chiieddy says:

    Where does “mentally handicapped” come in here?

  19. Same thing happened to my cable TV when I upgraded it from SD to HD TV. I got extra channels in the 120-1 (or something like that) channel range when I bypassed the cable box and hooked the cable signal directly onto the TV. Some were porn, some were other paid channels.

    I made damn sure I didn’t let anyone know about it :)

    The channels disappeared after a month or two on their own though.

  20. chiieddy says:

    @chiieddy: Never mind, it was also happening at his work, a group home for the mentally handicapped. It was sort of an aside in the long story.

  21. Patrickstt says:

    I have Cox in Virginia and have the same problem. Digital HDTV with just standard cable (no box). I can get other people’s on demand movies and such if they are watching them (although no porn, which is a bummer).
    The way the cable guy explained it to us when he hooked up the TV is that it is expensive for the cable company to scramble digital channels on the line (instead of just using a box to block them out) so they will come in if someone is watching them.
    I actually like it. They are bonus channels that you never know what is going to be on. Its like winning the lottery if a new movie I haven’t seen is on and I find it

  22. forgottenpassword says:

    Is that kelly O’dell in that pic?

    Man, do I miss the good ol days of vivid glam porn!

  23. you should elevate this problem to someone in a higher position and see if they can help you bring a happy ending to this story.

    sounds like wern’t the only ones getting happy endings.

  24. JonThomasDesigns says:

    That always happens with my Comcast QAM channels … Randomly i get free HD PPV movies or HBo , its random

  25. TheBigLewinski says:

    @idx: yeah yeah, he’s getting porn on “cox” cable. LMFAO

  26. QuantumRiff says:

    @pssshwhatever: Several of my friends have HDTV’s, and don’t even have cable! Heck they don’t even watch TV at all! But they do have a blue ray player, and some have sound systems that cost more than some cars!

  27. Munsoned says:

    Wasn’t this an episode of Friends? I think those guys were mentally handicapped too.

  28. pssshwhatever says:

    @backbroken: Well, two things.

    First, if I’m paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for something, it better be something I’ll use for a long time and get my money out of. To me, that’s an investment. If I was buying a $250 tube tv, that’s not an investment.

    And second, I’d understand *maybe* if he was at least getting digital cable of some sort, but if you’re hooking up a wide aspect ratio TV straight into your wall, then you’ve paid a lot of money for a TV that’s just going to distort your picture and make it look worse than it did on your old set. I’d also understand if he was fairly tech-savvy and understood that he could get over-the-air HD, but his submission indicates that he’s not aware of that. So why in the world spend all that money? My HD package with the same provider that he has costs $7/month, including the box. It’s like buying a Mercedes and then refusing to use high-octane fuel – why buy the Mercedes in the first place if you’re unwilling to invest in what it takes to make it perform like it should?

    Plenty of regular TVs, with regular aspect ratios, still exist out there. Why pay more for a TV when you’re not going to use the features that you’re paying more to get?

  29. pssshwhatever says:

    @QuantumRiff: And anyone that knows that much about their home theater system would realize that you can get over-the-air HD channels and not write in to the consumerist to ask why they can see others’ porn…

  30. weakdome says:

    @pepe the king prawn: Damn, you beat me to it. I laughed at the happy ending comment too!

  31. I found this as well on my cable system’s lineup when I let my LCD tv with a QAM tuner do a channel search. It wasn’t hardcore stuff but they did have a 3 hour nude aerobic show in the morning which was kinda cool, hehe.

    As much as I wanted to let it slide I did let my boss know so the engineers could be notified. The last thing anyone needs is some prude going nuts and causing a scene when they or little Bobby see the human body.

    Shortly thereafter the free boobage got moved.

  32. everclear75 says:

    I found out about this a little after XMAS, when I wired up my cable directly to my brand new shiny HDTV. I was watching movies, Pr0n, all of the sporting PPVs.. That all changed when Crapcast rebranded the ondemand service a while ago. Now all I get is the crappy HDPPVs.

  33. snoop-blog says:

    Deer charter,

    i rite to you to ask bout spesial offer fer yer cabel?

  34. highmodulus says:

    Comcast + QAM tuner used on my bedroom tv- alas, it’s completely porn free. Time for a rescan?

    For the group home, it’s probably best just to block the channel using the TV’s menu- I have to do it all the time on my TV’s after a fresh QAM scan channel to avoid the 75 music only channels it finds.

  35. backbroken says:

    @pssshwhatever: I’ll still argue that its a purchase, not an investment. The value of the TV isn’t expected to appreciate.

    I actually have 3 HDTVs, (ah, decadence!) yet I do not subscribe to HD programming from my content provider. Here are the reasons:

    #1. None of the 3 TV’s were replacements for existing TVs and all were purchased in the last 3 years. I challenge you to go buy a TV that isn’t HD ready even if you don’t want to watch HD programming.

    #2. I get over the air (OTA) HD for my local stations. Monthly cost = $0.

    #3. For less than the cost of an HD content upgrade from my provider, I have a top-notch Netflix subscription from which 90% of my TV watching comes from anyway. Netflix + upconverting DVD player = better picture on HDTV.

    #4. HD content from cable and satellite providers is a lot of promise without much delivery. Content is still extremely limited, and I’d be hard pressed to find any HD programming I’d want to watch that I can’t get OTA. And much of that is stretch-o-vision or not true HD resolution anyway.

    Conclusion: Paying an extra $15-20 a month for maybe a couple of hours of HD programming doesn’t seem like a great idea. But it’s definitely still worth it to have an HDTV.

  36. elislider says:

    we have this too. its the on-demand channels for the neighborhood. nothing new. we only pay for comcast internet but i plugged in the tv anyways and we get all the network channels + discovery + cspan + 20 on-demand randomness channels, some in HD

  37. TeamSAM says:

    Josh Levin explained this in-depth over at Slate last summer. It’s basically the cable co. not encrypting the pay-per-view channels.

    [www.slate.com]

  38. Same things goes for Cox here in San Diego. My friend’s parents bought a brand new HDTV, and hooked it straight up to cable. They did the “auto tune” to find all the stations, and it happened to pick up on the clear QAM on-demand channels, one of which was showing a quite graphic porn. It freaked them out a bit, since their teenage kids were in the room at the time. Fun!

  39. synergy says:

    Not to be cute, but the mentally handicapped enjoy porn too. Many mentally handicapped people marry each other. What do you think they do on their wedding night (or any other night), play scrabble?

  40. golfer2004nh says:

    Same thing happens in Stevens Point WI. Any TV with a digital tuner on regular cable will pick up everyone else’s on-demand.

    Have watched a lot of free movies this way, just sucks when someone pauses it and walks away!

  41. PinkBox says:

    @NameGoesHere:

    Well, it originally said “tv witch” instead of “tv which” in the article. :P

  42. Imafish says:

    “He’s a dumbass if he invested in an HDTV and has no intention of getting HD programming, which is what it sounds like.”

    There are more things in the world than what is broadcast on TV. I have a 50″ HDTV but I don’t waste my money on HD cable or satellite. (Charter’s basic analog service does provide my local channels in HD, not that I watch it much.)

    I rent Blu-ray movies from Netflix. That’s real HD at 1080p without any compression.

    I also have a PC connected and do a fair amount of gaming at 1920×1080. That’s pretty nice The PC also means I can download and watch any TV show I want in at least 720p without commercials.

    I can also surf the web from my living room couch, which is awesome.

    And I personally would not own a Wii without a big screen TV. I can imagine playing a button smashing 360/PS3 game on a small TV, but when you’re up and moving around you want a big TV to make it more real. At least to me.

  43. taka2k7 says:

    @pssshwhatever:

    All local HDTV stations are carried free over basic/extended cable (FCC requirement). I get about 7 or 8 HD channels on my cable.

    @Imafish: ditto

  44. ringo00 says:

    This is a bi-product of the way digital cable signals work. It doesn’t matter which provider you use. When someone orders up an on demand show, be it porn or Blues Clues, the show is sent out on a given sub-channel to the entire trunk line. The trunk may serve an entire neighborhood. In the case of apartment dwellers, it most commonly serves at least the building you live in. The exact number of the sub channel s sent only to the demander’s cable box but it can be seen by anyone who stumbles across it with a QAM tuner.

  45. esd2020 says:

    There was a whole slate.com article about this:

    Other People’s Porn: Watching my neighbors watch on-demand television.

    [www.slate.com]

  46. tristax says:

    Same thing happened to me. For a while I was getting free cable and after Charter took it away, I did a channel search on my new HD television. I saw the same fast-forwarded porn phenomenon.

  47. @pssshwhatever: The most commonly stated reason for purchasing an HDTV is gaming. Second is HD movies, thrid is HD Cable. It all depnds on where your priorties lie in how stupid you are for purchasing it. The convalescent home on the other hand should’ve saved their money considering even if the people can see it clearly, they might not remember it.

  48. donkeyjote says:

    Stop Complaining and enjoy? (except “Fastforwarding through the redheads”? now THAT is cause for complain. I mean, what kinda of twisted freak doesn’t like redheads?)

  49. ringo00 says:

    The “free porn” is not exclusive to Charter. You can catch it on any cable system. Especially if you live in an apartment.

    When someone orders an On Demand progam, it is sent out to the whole trunk on a QAM sub channel. The trunk is the main cable line that serves a given neighborhood, block of houses, or apartment building. The exact sub-channel number is only sent back to the cable box of the person that orders it. If you have a TV with a QAM tuner, you can pick up the on demand programming by pluggin the cable into your tv and not the cable box and scanning the signal. Depending on the system that your local cable office uses to send out programming, the particular OD stream may jump from channel to channel, or it may stay on until the purchaser stops it.

  50. backbroken says:

    @donkeyjote: Someone with a redheaded wife? Dunno, just a guess.

  51. darkrose says:

    It’s the QAM thing. I don’t know the technical details but one of my coworkers has a Media Center PC set up and he sees this all the time. He calls it “Mystery TV”.

  52. kyle4 says:

    I don’t know what’s more shocking; the fact that the guy is getting free porn or that he knows while that guy is fast forwarding he’s “pleasing” himself.

  53. Raving Rabbid says:

    Somebody needs to write Charter immediately. Corporate offices, preferably.

    We just have Cox here, thankfully. And Queasy Qwest, the company that we had customer service problems with.

    Cox just needs to get on the HD ball, but it’s trying to cobble up a network built by a cornucopia of older cable ops and rebuild it.

  54. ninjatales says:

    I used to get that free service too. Unfortunately, it switched to regular boring basic cable some months ago.

  55. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Damn you consumerist. If this post causes them to alter the system to encrypt on demand, you will have to change your name to the anti-consumerist. And the guy that posted about this is my new worst enemy. Everyone already knew you could watch free on demand via your HDTV. And I bet this guy felt he was the first person ever to notice this. And is probably all happy that his post made the front page. But pointing this out as a problem is only going to encourage cable companies to get these channels encrypted.

  56. itsgene says:

    I think it’s unlikely that cable companies are going to spend the money to encrypt these channels — it’s pretty much impossible for anyone watching to know when or what will appear on an given channel as they are allocated randomly when needed. You can’t assume that porn will be on channel xx at any given time or that a certain movie will be on at 8pm. There are a large number of these ephemeral channels, and most of the time nothing is on them. Even if you asked everyone in your neighborhood to notify you when they were planning on watching PPV, you’d still have to search through all the channels to find the one allocated to them for that particular viewing.
    It’s easy to prevent people from getting something for free if you make it just barely difficult enough that it’s not worth the effort to do it.

  57. jayw7 says:

    we had a problem similar to this with satellite tv, only our neighbors could change our channel, we used to fight back and forth changing the channel until one of us just finally gave up and watched what the other was watching.

  58. scoopjones says:

    Best thing to do if Comcast doesn’t respond – write to the local newspaper/TV station and also any city councilman who likes to stir things up. Give Comcast a public black eye and things will get fixed much more quickly.

  59. scoopjones says:

    Sorry – Charter Cable, not Comcast.

  60. crapple says:

    My wife and I were getting free porn for awhile…but it was gone. It was the same pattern as the OP, it was in FF quite often and it’d change channels a lot. We also got free HBO, showtime and cinemax. About every 2 mins though, they’d all shift up or down .1 channel (e.g. 107.2 would shift to 107.3 and all would follow suit).

  61. We have Comcast, and this happens on our new TV as well – we just blocked the channels and leave it alone…

    I’m just wondering which of my neighbors is watching it, though – everyone knows everyone around here!

  62. otakucode says:

    Leave the parenting to the parents, guys. Some people aren’t afraid of kids learning about or watching naked people rubbing together. It’s pretty immature and dim-witted to figure that’s going to cause harm to any human being assuming they’re educated.

  63. Mr. Gunn says:

    idx: Very Interesting. Exactly which channels are we talking about here?

  64. temporaryerror says:

    Re: a couple of comments above: You most certainly can buy a new non-HDTV with a digital tuner. They are quite cheap to boot. (Just look for the SDTV logo, and the 4:3 screen)