FCC: Why Are Cable Customers Paying The Same Amount For Fewer Channels?

The WSJ says that the FCC has sent letters of inquiry to 11 cable companies asking why their customers are paying the same amount each month, even as the companies move channels to digital cable.

The WSJ says:

Some consumers are complaining that they are getting fewer channels now on their analog cable service, as cable companies move channels to more-expensive, digital tiers. Once a channel is moved to a digital tier, it is unavailable to analog customers, who still make up about 40% of cable subscribers.

Agency officials said the investigation stems from concerns that cable companies could be trying to use the transition to digital-only television broadcasts in February to lure their subscribers to move to these more-expensive digital tiers.

Cable subscribers don’t have to do anything to prepare for the digital transition, because that will affect only consumers who rely on TV sets using antennas. Cable subscribers aren’t required to upgrade to digital tiers of service, either.

We can’t wait for the explanation.

Reader Tim, who sent the article in, says:

I’m glad the FCC is finally investigating the questionable practices of cable companies, including RCN, who is now forcing converter boxes on their subscribers at a cost of $4 per TV per month and creating a new “digital tier” and essentially forcing consumers to subscribe to this new “premium” package just to get the same channels as before.

FCC Opens Investigation Into Cable-TV Pricing [WSJ]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Saboth says:

    Doesn’t surprise me… my comcast just went up another 5% per month, because they are “expanding”. Strangely, their expansion didn’t include any more channels or tiers of service for myself. Apparently I am paying for them to expand to other areas without the services I have?

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @Saboth:

      Prices go up every year largely because the prices the cable companies pay to the channel owners go up every year – they’re passing the cost on to you.

    • smirkette says:

      @Saboth: And that’s why I don’t have cable and won’t get it unless something significant happens. Hello, library & Netflix!

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny that I’m reading this now, after getting off the phone with Comcast just one minute ago. Got my e-bill this morning and found that it went up from $152/mth to $173. I ended up getting another package and went down to $138 but geez, that’s still a lot for sporatic service at best.

    • agency says:

      @Saboth: The issue is not just the regular price increases – it’s the decreases in srandard extended cable channel offerings. Comcast cut away TruTV (CourTV) – one of my favorite channels – from my lineup this summer. Now I need to get digital to watch it, which is much more expensive than just the cost of a digital cable box rental. Meanwhile the crap like QVC is still up and running. Comcast sucks, and it is a monopoly – what can I say.

  2. snoop-blog says:

    I love how we’re in denial about the monopolies that exist in the U.S.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @snoop-blog:

      For the vast majority of Americans, there are at least three pay TV options – a significant number have four by now.

      • Orv says:

        @JustThatGuy3: Not so sure about that “vast majority” bit. Most places have one cable company, and satellite is only available if you own your own home, or happen to have an understanding landlord and a balcony that faces south.

        • JustThatGuy3 says:

          @Orv:

          About 75-80% of US households can get satellite – call it “vast,” call it “substantial,” whatever term, it’s the large majority of US homes.

          • Orv says:

            @JustThatGuy3: 75-80% of households, or 75-80% of homeowners? It makes a difference. I’ve never had an apartment where satellite was an option. All my leases have prohibited outside antennas, and anyway I was usually too low or on the wrong side of the building.

      • blackmage439 says:

        @JustThatGuy3: Tell me, sir, where exactly are these options? Millions of apartment owners have no such options. My parents in Bolingbrook, IL only have Comcast as a cable supplier, and satellite is too expensive. My grandparents in Rogers, AK, only have Cox as an option. I, an apartment dweller, luckily have the option of Comcast and WoW, of which I went to WoW; I can’t get satellite or AT&T’s Uverse or Verizon FIOS.

      • ChemNerd says:

        @JustThatGuy3: Excuse me? And where are you getting your information from? 75-80%?

        Every person I know that lives where I do has one option: Comcast. While satellite is available, none of the apartment buildings or condos allow them. Verizon is available in some areas of my city but they simply aren’t offered if the buildings aren’t wired for it.

        Not every owns their own home and can do with it what they please.

      • TCTH says:

        @JustThatGuy3: ONly one here, Jack… Comcast is the only game in town. Watch out with that “vast majority” hype. I’ve found more often than not that it’s only used by company shills with nothing to support it.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @JustThatGuy3: I have 3 “options” but can only use one.
        I currently have cable because 6 channels through antenna wasn’t enough to entertain my boyfriend.

        Of course, I could’ve gone with the Dish, but because I live in an apartment, and my complex requires the dish to be on a tripod.. and my porch doesn’t face south, Dish is kinda out of the question. My only option besides shelling out $50 for a converter box to get 6 channels in digital after February is to get cable.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @snoop-blog: Even when consumers do have the option of multiple choices, we don’t see the “free market” acting like free market advocates claim it should. Comcast, AT&T / Dish, Time Warner, Verizon / Direct TV, etc… all have terrible customer service and are all raising their rates. If in actuality this is not a monopoly, their corporate behavior is pretty much the same as if it was, and all of these companies manage to survive due to mutually assured incompetence.

    • tmlfan81 says:

      @snoop-blog: I’m not in denial of any monopolies that exist. Hell, I live in Monroe County, IL. I have just ONE phone company to pick for local telco service. I can’t just choose AT&T, Charter, etc. No, I just have Harrisonville Telephone Company.

      I’ve only lived out this way for going on a decade, but people that have lived here for thirty years can’t tell me why that is the way it is. I asked The Consumerist to look into it but I have gotten a lot of dead air after what seemed like an auto reply to the tipster e-mail I sent.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      @snoop-blog: Actually, I think it is generally recognized that cable is a monopoly, which is why it is being so heavily regulated by the FCC. Most businesses can raise prices any way they want and the free market decides if the price is reasonable.

      For those that said they can’t satellite or an antenna for an apartment, I think one of the FCC regulations requires apartment owners to let you do this?

      • TCTH says:

        @crazydavythe1st: Uh… no.
        And even if they do, what happens if you’re on the wrong side of the building or on the third floor of a ten story building? Where do you put the dish?

        There are places where satellite is simply NOT an option. I know… I live in one of them surrounded by several others.

      • MrEvil says:

        @crazydavythe1st: You’re right, the FCC says that a landlord nor HOA can flat-out forbid you to have a TV antenna or satellite dish. However, a rental property landlord can stipulate that your dish installation cannot permanently alter the structure NOR occupy a space that is accessible to everyone in the complex. If you have a balcony you can c-clamp the dish to the railing, and I even think there are some tripod setups you can get for a dish. The landlord or HOA can bitch and moan all they want, but the federal government says they can’t do crap about it.

        In my friend’s case the cable company going back several years ago to TCA cable (bought out by Cox then sold off to Suddenlink) really pissed off his complex to the point where nobody can get cable at their apartment. But there are Satellite dishes all over the south side of the buildings.

      • MightyDwarf56 says:

        @crazydavythe1st: There is an FCC reg that says that an apartment owner can’t tell you that you cannot have a satellite dish. How ever, the can tell you where you can put it. If that spot does not have a look at the southern sky, your pretty much out of luck.

    • EricLecarde says:

      @snoop-blog: I disagree whole heartedly with that statement. There are plenty of other options available, in most markets, at least 4 different companies to try out. In my area for example, you have Time Warner, Grande, Suddenlink, Dish, ATT, and DirecTv. All it takes is some research to see whats in your area.

  3. zigziggityzoo says:

    As far as I know, Comcast no longer advertises it’s non-digital services, although they are still available.

    That said, it will be interesting to see what they have to say about it.

    • billbillbillbill says:

      @zigziggityzoo: In my area, there are 2 Comcast analog options. A non advertised $15 package which gives locals and 4 cable channels or a $55 one that havs most the basics. The funny thing is that they advertise digital cable for $56 so this is their way of getting analog people off the ship.

  4. pockygt says:

    Cablevision a.k.a. Optimum just recently took a few basic channels off the analog and sent ‘em to digital. Pissed my mom off enough to call them and complain, so they sent her another box to use free. Even though there are 3 other boxless TVs still in the house.

    Then the bill went up anyways.

  5. ElizabethD says:

    Cox cable recently raised our monthly fee substantially and cut the channels we get. So we’re on DirecTV (satellite) now, getting more channels than with Cox for a lower price. Vote with your bank account!

    • working class Zer0 says:

      @ElizabethD: I did the same thing 4 years ago after comcast did their yearly (and sometimes more often) price increase. Direct TV never made me sorry about the move. They increased prices once in those 4 years and have given me some freebies over the years for staying with them.

      • KW802 says:

        @working class Zer0: Same for our household. We previously had Comcast’s analog package and after several years in a row of them removing channels while raising prices, we got rid of them in exchange for DirecTV.

        With DTV we have the “DVR Plus” package on three TVs in the house and the bill, at the full regular rate, still comes out cheaper than what the analog package for Comcast was. Over twice as many channels, XM music channels, a DVR, and much crisper video for a cheaper rate.

        I just wish I made the switch sooner.

    • MadameX says:

      @ElizabethD: I wish I could, but Cox is the only high speed internet option I have in my neighborhood. I can’t even get DSL because we live too far out.

      Sadly, it would be more expensive to get satellite because I have to keep Cox as my internet provider (as much as it pains me to do so). They bought out the only cable competitor (CableAmerica) a few years ago so there is nothing else.

      • lauy says:

        @MadameX:

        You must be with me here in the East Valley of the Phoenix area. The apartment complex I live in used to give us free basic cable until CableAmerica got bought by Cox. Literally within the month, we got letters informing us no more free basic because Cox jacked the rates up on them when there was no longer any competition. My bill doubled and has contiuned to climb regularly while I lose more and more channels. I, too, am stuck in the sole internet provider trap…man I hate Cox.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @ElizabethD:

      Mediacom kept doing this to me too. So I went to DirecTV. The price has gone up some, but it is comparable to what I was paying for Mediacom and with more channels. They jacked it up one time and I sent an email that said it was getting kind of high for me, and they knocked $4 off my monthly charge. Ha!

      Mediacom would NEVER do that. Although when I went into their office, their people were always really friendly. At least they were nice while screwing you.

  6. unpolloloco says:

    But of course, prices will be lower when cable companies have monopolies…. /sarcasm

  7. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Dish Network FTW. We fired our cable company years ago. I never regretted it for a minute.

    • abucsfan says:

      @HurtsSoGood:
      I have DirectTv and will cancel it when my NFL Sunday Package is done in January and then go to Dish Network. I understand that their all HD now and have a good price for it. I’m sick of $80+ monthly payments when we watch just a few stations..

  8. BrandonOBrien says:

    Or you could just ditch cable and go with over the air signals for the basic stations.

    Do you really need all those stations you don’t watch for an extra $40 per month?

    • Orv says:

      @BrandonOBrien: Unfortunately, the only digital over-the-air broadcasts I can get are religious stations. I can’t even get the big 3 networks.

    • Brontide says:

      @BrandonOBrien: I went OTA + Netflix years ago and saved a ton of cash and get to watch what I want on my schedule.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @BrandonOBrien: That’s the problem :( There are maybe 3 or 4 stations that I regularly watch not available OTA. I really wish I could purchase them a-la-carte for $3 or $4 each per month rather than having to pay $59 a month for several hundred stations I do not watch. It REALLY pisses me off that I’m paying for religious cable stations like Daystar.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      @BrandonOBrien:

      That might seem so, but the OTA stations are not broadcasting with enough strength for many to get them. I lost 4 channels going to DTV from Analog. It is all a money game being co-oped by tech/cable/wireless industries with Gov giving them a hands up. The rural American areas are getting screwed, no cable, no broadband. satellite is a poor solution and I do not consider them equal competition. either way, the Gov decided you WILL pay one way or another whether it be high cable service, high satellite service, new expensive outdoor antennas, etc… you will NOT go into the next year without opening that wallet.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @FrugalFreak: I wholeheartedly agree with you here! I’ve been saying its a govt. ploy so they can a) get more money by selling the newly opened frequency bands b) get more kickbacks from the cable company because most people won’t go through the hassle of getting a converter box and will just buy cable instead.

        Its a plot!

    • worrytron says:

      @BrandonOBrien: Can’t you just use smoke signals instead of a telephone? Please.

    • Thanatos says:

      @BrandonOBrien: As im renting and cant do an antennae or dish, cable is my only option. But i do have a basic local channels deal with comcast that is all the channels i would get with OTA and a few others for $12 a month plus having the TV makes my internet cheaper, well at least for the next 4 months.

    • ninjatoddler says:

      @BrandonOBrien: I’m of the same opinion. Cable tv is one of the biggest legal scams around especially with the exorbitant “digital” rates.

      Just get an amplified rabbit ear base station and you should be getting most of your local channels in high def and clear.

      The only channels I really miss are CNN, MSNBC, and Bloomberg but that information can easily be found on their respective websites.

    • EricLecarde says:

      @BrandonOBrien: Over the Air, or if you have broadband internet, you have the option of watching just about all of your favorite shows on line. No, its not HD, but as long as you have a S-Video connection on your TV and Computer you can still watch it in a decent format.

    • CumaeanSibyl says:

      @BrandonOBrien: Yes. Yes, I do.

  9. UriImbeciliot says:

    Another question cable subscribers should be asking is why they pay for the most basic cable (all channels you can get over-the-air anyway) while the cable companies charge the small local channels on that service upwards of a million dollars to be on that service. They charge both parties to provide that one station…pretty interesting, huh?

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @UriImbeciliot:

      No, they don’t actually charge. If you’re on the air in your market, they have to carry you by law. The only people who get charged are QVC and HSN.

      • UriImbeciliot says:

        @JustThatGuy3:

        This is incorrect.

        Only full-power television stations have must-carry status by law. Other stations, known as CA or LP stations, do not have must carry. As a result, the stations are usually charged per subscriber in the cable’s coverage area, which in cities can become extremely costly.

        I know this because I work for such a station, and a certain cable company is gouging us for said coverage.

  10. ModernTenshi04 says:

    Now if only they could get something related to ala carte cable services going . . . .

    • Canino says:

      @ModernTenshi04: Most people would love ala carte services. I went through my channel lineup and figured I would end up with local channels plus about 20 others at the most. I wonder how many shopping channels would die overnight?

      • arkangel says:

        @Canino: I know I’d vote that stupid infomerical channel off the island in a heartbeat!

      • JustThatGuy3 says:

        @Canino:

        Shopping channels wouldn’t go anywhere – they’d be provided to everyone for free, since they pay the cable operators to be on the network. The religious channels would stay too. The smaller arts channels would go, as would a large portion of the ethnic or special interest programming. SciFi probably wouldn’t make it. ESPN would do fine, as would TNT, TBS, USA, etc.

      • TCTH says:

        @Canino: My entire lineup would be right at 20 channels… I now pay for 60 plus, including 40 that I never watch, just to get 16 of the 20.

    • Sunflower1970 says:

      @ModernTenshi04: I would give my left ear for a la carte cable service. I even have a list read of all the channels I’d want if a la carte ever happens

      It wouldn’t bother me to get rid of cable altogether though either. I use hulu or netflix for most of what I want, but the hubby has to have his sports channels *sigh*

    • Pithlit says:

      @ModernTenshi04: A l cart would be great! Until our favorite channels start getting cut because not enough people are subscribing to them. Then that would suck. No thanks. I hope cable companies never go a la cart. I love the Science Channel.

    • Landru says:

      @ModernTenshi04: I like the idea of ala carte cable channel service also, but when they make it available, they will just charge more per channel to still get the $100 a month out of you.

    • EricLecarde says:

      @ModernTenshi04: Ala Carte… hmm… okay, lets play this game for a bit. Lets assume for a second that you could pick ala carte. How much would you pay per channel per day? Lets say, 25 cents a day per channel. And lets assume that you picked up 15 channels. Its about the number of channels I pick anyway. For 15 channels at 25 cents per channel a day, that comes to 3.75 a day for 15 channels. Now, multiply that by 30. That equals 112.50 for 15 channels. That too high?? Lets drop it down to 15 cents per channel per day. Thats 2.25 a day, 67.50 a month. For most people, thats just way too much to only get 15 channels. Even at 10 cents, its roughtly 47 bucks a month. And thats still only 15 channels. Most average consumers pay anywhere between 30 and 70 a month and get way more than that for the same price. Do the math instead of spouting off.

      • Shaggy says:

        @EricLecarde: Ok, I watch three channels on my cable. At your rates, that would mean my cable bill would drop to $23 a month, which is a lot less than the $70 or so that I pay now.

        Just because ala carte cable wouldn’t be convenient for YOU doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be convenient for everyone.

  11. arkangel says:

    I was wondering about this too. I have Charter, and they’ve taken away several channels, while inundating me with tons of junk mail trying to get me to switch to digital. I refuse, and if push came to shove, I’d just pull the plug outright. I don’t watch that much TV, I wouldn’t even bother with cable except for the fact that I live next to an airport and wouldn’t get any reception at all otherwise.

    • Tmoney02 says:

      @arkangel: Yep my parents have charter and they have noticed the slow channel drain as well. Charter is clearly trying to get their customers annoyed enough to just make the switch, for extra cost of course.

      • tenuhcgal says:

        @Tmoney02: Haha. I live in a college town (Athens, GA–UGA) and Charter is our ONLY option for cable, unless we wanted to go to satellite. When I moved here, cable and internet was $60 a month. Flat fee. Now, we’re paying over $100 a month, for less channels and (way) slower internet. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Everyone here loathes Charter, but we can’t do anything about it because either we pay it, or we don’t watch tv. I won’t be here but for another 6 months, so I’m not signing a 2-year contract to get satellite…

        The thing I don’t understand is why, in Memphis, TN, where my mom lives, we got digital cable and internet (with 4 cable boxes) for LESS than what I’m paying for just expanded basic and slow internet here. And it’s Comcast, which is the same thing as Charter. WHYYYYY?!?!?!

  12. davebg5 says:

    Recently experienced this at my gym w/TWC. One day we had a regular slate of channels. The next day? Gone…imgaine that…a gym w/no ESPN. It’s been about 2 months. My gym has finally decided to switch to the dish…just waiting for landlord approval.

  13. blackmage439 says:

    The real question to ask these companies is how can they justify the prices of the “digital” tiers, and the need for a set-top box, once that distinction is no longer applicable. Yes, the box serves another purpose of decrypting the higher-tier channels, but that just leads back to the ultimate question.

    How can they really justify these prices?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Comcast is out-right lying to its customers about its digital tiers and the analog-to-digital transition. We have a basic cable package, and upon making a service call a couple of weeks ago the representative told us she noticed we hadn’t switched to their “digital starter package,” and that we would need to do so before the 2009 deadline or we would no longer have service. Total B.S.

  15. brandymb says:

    I too wish the satellite services would go to alacarte. Wife and I watch maybe 5 channels and it costs me $57 a month. One thing I did do though is cancel my XM subscription for my garage. I get the same music on the TV.. just pipe it outside while I’m working on the GTO…

  16. JohnDeere says:

    Dear Mr. Fcc
    Because we can.
    Thank You
    Comcast

  17. The_IT_Crone says:

    Now that many networks are putting their shows online, and the rest I can watch from DVD, cable is pretty much obsolete for me.

  18. ChrisC1234 says:

    What nobody tells you is that if you have an HDTV with a QAM tuner, you can get many of the cable company’s digital stations for free. I get Charter’s complete digital cable package, and several of my local stations in HD just by hooking my cable up to my HDTV and letting it search for stations. I only pay for basic cable. The cable companies have done an EXCELLENT job making you think that you need a cable box to receive HD or digital stations, but you don’t necessarily.

    • SScorpio says:

      @ChrisC1234:

      This really depends on your cable provider. The cable companies are only required to send OTA channels via ClearQAM which the tuner in your TV can see. Any non-OTA HD channel is encrypted by my provider.

      I have a HD-DVR leased from them and I can see a lot of HD channels that they provide for free; however, I cannot tune these extra channels on my computer which has a QAM tuner in it.

    • sashazur says:

      @ChrisC1234: I do the exact same thing with Comcast basic cable on my HDTV – no cable box. But I don’t get all the digital stations, just the basic cable stations and a handful of additional stuff – mostly over the air and home shopping. But the networks are in HD.

  19. shiftless says:

    Even more troubling is the fact they’re trying to push out set-top boxes with Switched Digital Video. My Tivo’s CableCards dont even have a chance of accessing those since SDV requires two way communication. Sure, a solution has been in the works” for a while but it should already be here as it isn’t THAT hard! Thankfully Time Warner has been fined and I hope they get fined even more.

    Bidirectional communications for everyone please. Tru2Way, etc… make it snappy!

  20. warf0x0r says:

    Comcast rolled up more channels into HD service and then upped my bill, but I get fewer digital, non-HD, channels.

    To get those channels back… $10/mo per box.

    >:O

  21. dieselman8 says:

    What most disturbing is that these cable companies are taking advantage of the confusion over the digital switch over, which only affects people who get their TV with an antenna anyway.

  22. Haltingpoint says:

    God what I wouldn’t give to see the collective “Oh shit!” faces on the executives when this letter landed on their desk.

  23. strathmeyer says:

    Comcast removed all of the non-network channels from my basic cable a few months ago. Now all I get extra is WGN and TBS (as opposed to the dozen extra channels as I had before.) I’m still paying the same price. (Not for long, wink wink.)

  24. AnonymousFinger says:

    I have Verizon FiOS and I have been paying for the HD package along with all the movie channels. They just added a lot of HD channels, but some of the new channels offered in HD (ABC Family, ESPN News, FX HD etc.) I do not get, even though I get them in the Standard Def. When I asked about them, they said I need the “Extream” HD package, at $10 more a month, to get those channels. Huh??? Let’s see… I’m paying for the HD package, but I don’t get all of the standard HD channels? BTW, I have the “triple play” and I’m paying around $210 (after taxes and fees) a month already.

  25. winstonthorne says:

    My parents have TWC and this happened to them. In order to receive the same lineup they’re going to have to pay more monthly beginning in Feb.2009 – something to the tune of $20/month more in fact.

  26. provolone says:

    When I moved into my last apartment, Time Warner forced me to move to digital cable, at about twice the monthly price of my previous account. They lied and said that they were not offering new analog connections, and that I shouldn’t bother trying to get one anyway because all existing accounts in the area would have to switch over to digital cable in the next few months anyway. That was EIGHT YEARS ago! I am sure they have tried this scam thousands of times over by now. It is about time someone started investigating this. Some sort of punishment is long overdue.

  27. Urgleglurk says:

    “Because we can.”

  28. SexCpotatoes says:

    I haven’t seen any commentators mention how Digital Cable looks like complete ass! It pixelates all the time and looks horrible even if they say it is “clear” I have a box to get the HD channels with my local cable company, and I can access the both the digital and analog channels, flipping back and forth there is a MAJOR difference in quality.

    Actually this is something I should look into, as the cable company supposedly required my one retired friend to get digital signal adapters or “he wouldn’t be able to watch tv anymore.”

    • Orv says:

      @SexCpotatoes: The problem you’re seeing is the cable companies are heavily compressing their digital signals so they can pack in more channels. The satellite companies are doing the same thing. The result is that HDTV over cable or satellite often looks significantly worse than HDTV received with an antenna.

    • dieselman8 says:

      @SexCpotatoes:
      This is precisely why the FCC is investigating. People don’t second guess the cable companies because of all the hype about “going digital.” Cable companies are taking advantage of people who are confused or don’t know any better.

  29. HotTubber says:

    Where do I sign up?
    For the previous 17 years, I had an HBO subscription with Time Warner cable just using an analog setup – no cable box – no additional rental.
    Then last year, Time Warner removed HBO from the analog channel lineup. That’s the only reason I switched to a digital box.
    Yes, I’m still using my 19″ RCA TV I’ve had for the last 18 years.

  30. vastrightwing says:

    Dump ‘em all & get FREE over the air digital TV. It’s better. There is no compression and looks a whole lot better than the crapola they give you on cable and satellite.

  31. Gatcha_Journalism says:

    Cable is a joke, PERIOD. Especially Time Warner cable. I have been a devoted DirecTV consumer for more than five years, but found myself having to switch to cable after moving to an area not supported by DirecTV. I probably have 15-20 non-local channels, compared to more than 100 basic non-local HD channels that came standard with satellite. I can’t believe they are still in business to be quite honest. DirecTV needs to offer an all-the-best package similar to TimeWarner, and I could see them easily folding. TW simply does not compare in terms of quality.

  32. smokinfoo says:

    Charter is guilty of the exact same practice as told to me by the cable guy who serviced my box.

  33. oregongal says:

    Less channels, more channels. Less money, more money. Makes not one bit of difference. There is still nothing worth watching. When we move in January, the only cable we will have is internet and phone. TV sucks.

  34. BeeBoo says:

    My cable kept going up. When the last price increase was announced about a year ago and my TV broke a few days later, I said, “screw it” and cancelled my cable and threw my TV away and didn’t buy a new one.

    Guess what? Anything important, like television coverage of the election, is available over the internet. Plus you can download all kinds of movies and TV shows from various sources. I haven’t missed my television at all.

  35. DadCooks says:

    All of the previous comments don’t deal with the REAL PROBLEM — the FCC cares nothing about us customers. The FCC is always “investigating” the cable companies and has always found them to be charging appropriately.

    The FCC token investigating of the cable companies has got to stop, but it will not as long as the cable companies have the FCC in their back pockets.

    The bureaucrats in D.C. need to quit having hearings and investgations and really do something for the real people for a change.

  36. fleebailey33 says:

    my cox internet did indeed go up. but they increased my speed quite a bit. and since i am a premier customer and 2 dollars a month isn’t “that” much. i’m ok with it

    • carlogesualdo says:

      @fleebailey33: Yeah, but this is about cable television, rising prices and shrinking channel lineups. I don’t know about your area, but I have noticed that Cox has removed MTV2 from analog and rolled it into digital. I have never watched MTV2 and wouldn’t miss it, but I notice they are not giving me a replacement channel. They are simply taking something away without cutting the price. Cox has been pretty good about not pulling tricks like this before. I had hoped they wouldn’t start now. So much for that…

  37. azntg says:

    Despite all the channels available on cable and satellite, my family never thought it was cost effective.

    Indeed, I always seem to get the idea that prices for cable/satellite TV is always going up without significant benefits for the consumers in compensation every time I read.

    Thankfully, digital OTA is a good possibility for me, since I live in western Queens with a clear line of view to the Empire State Building (where most channels broadcast from in NYC). I’m an apartment dweller, but since my family’s been living here for more than a decade, our rooftop antenna has been “grandfathered” in.

    I hear that new guys moving in can’t even set up their antenna on the roof either. Pity, digital OTA is quite wonderful and in NYC, you have a reasonably good selection of local channels too.

  38. allstarecho says:

    Here in Jackson, Mississippi Comcast moved several channels including ESPN2 up to their next tier so that if you want them, you have to get a box. When they moved these 6 channels, they didn’t go down on the price. No, they went up last week 3 bucks.

  39. kingdom2000 says:

    Charter Communications in Georgia is doing the same thing. About 10 channels have been lost to the digital tiers but prices on cable continue to rise. So its essentially pay more for less. The company likes to claim rising costs of this and that but I don’t think they have updated their infrastructure in over 10 years.

    Its just pure profit bcause they know they have no oversight and no competition.

  40. Keter says:

    I quit cable a decade ago and all TV entirely last year. Didn’t watch enough even to justify Dish Network basic service, which was actually a pretty good deal if I had been using it. No way am I ever going back. Shenanigans like this only convince me further of the wisdom of my decision.

  41. bohemian says:

    Both of our local cable options (Knology & Midco) have been doing the same thing, moving in demand channels to digital from analog. They also have a pricing scam going on. The cost for basic cable is rather high. Then the cost to add on digital or a DVR etc. is relatively cheap, usually around $10. They arm twist and upsell people to spend that little bit more because it is only another $10 and what is $10. So either you get soaked for basic cable or get soaked a little more for the channels held hostage in the digital tier.

    We are putting up a small FTA dish and a long range HD antenna this spring. Once we know what we can pull down for free we will decide if we are going to keep cable, drop it or drop it and buy some version of a pay for service sat. dish. The only things we watch that we probably could not pull down for free is cable news. If we can get some decent cable news off the FTA dish we may skip pay service all together.

  42. 2719 says:

    People will be disappointed to discover that their savings will be probably less than $1 per removed channel. Considering the 2-3 rate increases a year this does not make much difference.

    The prices WILL NEVER go down as long as people are willing to pay more. Let’s not forget the inflation and ever growing amount of money handed over to content providers.

    The truth is cable cos are more expensive by design to operate. More employees are needed, more infrastructure to maintain, bigger deployment costs etc. I am surprised satellite companies are not even more cheaper.

    Personally I’d never pay $150+ a month to get a ton of commercials and even more reruns. But that’s just me and apparently I’m in minority…

  43. parad0x360 says:

    My cable bill is insane and I only watch like 8 channels. Im tired of it and pretty soon (December) I will be calling Comcast and telling them to cancel my cable tv service.

    Netflix streaming to my 360 and tv on dvd will suffice just fine. I could buy 2-3 box sets a month and it would still be cheaper than cable.

  44. carlogesualdo says:

    If it wasn’t for NASCAR, I think I could probably cut back to the $12 REALLY basic level. Unfortunately we can never get rid of it completely because even living in a major metro area, we can only pick up one OTA TV station. I suppose we could go satellite, but we still couldn’t get the local stations.

  45. angelcake88 says:

    This is probably in response to Cablevision’s antics back in June. I know I called up the FCC to complain about their taking E! and other non premiums off family basic to charge for them in digital. When the stations themselves weren’t digital at all.

    I had it with Cablevision and swtiched to Verizon. So many more channels and it doesn’t have the same ‘solar flare’ problems that cablevision always had.

    BTW, this article ran in Newsday but they failed to mention that Cablevision was the main offender. Guess why…Cablevision now owns Newsday. Fair and balanced..whatever.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I just returned 1 of 3 coverters to TWC. I was told by a rep. that I was not being charged for digital programming duplication fee of $2.95 per box. I explained reason: I received letter instructing me to exchange analog boxes for digital as analog would no longer be available. This I was told could be done at no additional fee. Well here it is one, I am being undercharged and he fixed it so that I can pay an additonal $2.99 per box. I will be returning the other 2 converters as customer service stated they cannot waive fee, although I did not want to switc boxes and to consider myself lucky that they are not making me pay me for the past fees??? How do you like that??? Monopoly??? Heck no, it’s roberry!!!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, Comcast is guilty of this. When I had their analog service I paid for HBO, which included 3 channels. Then one day HBO2 vanished. When I called to complain I was told it was now a digital-only channel. “So that means my bill will go down slightly, right?” I asked. Nope, same money for fewer channels.

    I cancelled HBO right then and there, downgraded my package to the absolute minimum, and got myself a nice little magic box that got me all the channels for free (shh!). And gradually over the next year every premium channel vanished as they were moved over to digital. When they were all gone I finally moved to digital myself.

  48. Phydeaux says:

    I was watching G4 a few days ago and I had a channel 63 that I always watch and a channel 80 saying that it was currently unavailable.

    Okay. Sure.

    Now channel 63 is completely gone and channel 80 says I have to order it.

    The kicker is that I DO pay for digital cable. Did they see that I leave it on 24/7 (even when my TV is off, my cable box is still on) and decide they wanted me to pay for that privilege?

    Kind of annoyed.

  49. Nick1693 says:

    I love my Comcast TriplePlay ($99 for the first year, like $115 for the second, still cheaper than before.) I just go on Twitter for customer service. Plus, the internet is faster than my old Verizon DSL.

  50. 108Reliant says:

    I’m glad that the FCC is investigating. TWC just mailed me a letter saying that their prices are going up again, with no further benefits. I’m shopping for a HD antenna, get my viewing for free.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @108Reliant: We recently switched from TWC to AT&T Fios service. Everything that TWC did in regards to their cable service (we had their Internet for years) was a complete shill.
      -offered us a free month-long of service (NOT a money-back trial)…then sent us a bill for that month.
      -listed our transferred service as a new hookup and tried to charge me an extra $15.
      -We signed up for the basic HD channels so we could get Discovery HD…about a third of the channels worked.
      -original tech lied during install and said we wouldn’t need him to hook up our upstairs TV, so we had another tech come out a week later.
      -original billing rep lied when I called in regards to the bill mixup and said he had no access to the promotional records he’d need to fix the bill.

      The upside was that I did finally get in contact with a very sweet billing rep that cleared the erroneous charges, but that was the only positive part of our transactions with TWC. I’m glad we bailed before prices started going up. I had not had a TV with any reception (OTA, cable, or dish) for almost 7 years, it’s crazy how behavior like this is the standard. If it wasn’t for my beloved nerd channels and my sweet, sweet Adam Savage in luscious HD on DVR, I’d ditch the whole mess again.

  51. mdovell says:

    There’s dish network and direct tv…but there’s other things as well

    Just using an antenna with a hdtv isn’t that bad as you can get maybe two dozen channels

    theres free channels from satellite as well, it’s more hobbiest but you can get more content. See http://www.ftalist.com

  52. boxjockey68 says:

    we rent and can only get comcast, we tried it and sure enough..their quality, their line up, and their prices all suck so we canceled and are now reading & listening to the radio….suck it comcast.

  53. ChainsawFacelift says:

    I could care less for the poor local service, but DirecTV seems to be a good way to go. My other family members enjoy Dish Network, which I agree has a better interface than any other cable or satellite company.

    I get my local High-Speed through a small carrier (Suddenlink) and only pay $30 a month. I hope to never deal with Comcast, Time Warner, etc. again.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Use hulu.com That is a great website. You can’t watch anything. But that site is getting bigger and bigger every single week. You can watch a lot of movies and shows for free with not that many comercials.

  55. Acolyte says:

    I have limited basic cable with Comcast, with that I dont need to have a cable box. They decided all of a sudden to take away the TV Guide channel and said that if you want to have a guide you have to rent a cable box.
    What a bunch of bastards! They have to make every single penny they can off of us!

  56. Quilt says:

    I do just fine with basic cable, so I don’t really care. Mind you, it’s my roommate that wants the television hooked up. I could care less, and would rather not have cable at all.

  57. Erwos says:

    Yep – it’s definitely pretty lame. I wish the FCC had just told them that they could only transmit in clear QAM, as it would have prevented most of these problems.

  58. TheFuzz53 says:

    I like how DirecTV took HD channels that I always had and moved them the HD Extra Pack and want me to pay an extra $5/month for 5 channels.

    Wouldn’t this be a violation of the 2 year contract I signed?

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @TheFuzz53:

      ?? I haven’t noticed this.

      If they did it to me, I would send them an email. I have a lot of channels that say “Not purchased,” but for some reason I keep finding new ones. I found one called Chiller that shows scary movies, and one called “Sleuth” that plays mysteries and movies. I watched “Play Misty for Me” and “Dog Day Afternoon” on subsequent weekends on that one. Woo hoo!

  59. truebluesue says:

    The only way to get cable companies to lower their rates is for consumers to take a stand and cancel their cable packages,the lower the demand,lower the prices. Comcast is the biggest rip off put there, with horrid customer service to boot.

  60. Anonymous says:

    This is also a fun way to gouge more money from subscribers even if they already have made the transition to digital cable services. I lost about a dozen channels over the summer, but because I had a box to get HD channels on one TV, I now needed to shell out more money for a second cable box to be able to watch channels (like SciFi, TLC, etc) which were analog channels. Talking with customer support was worthless, even when you called them on the fact that the digital transition had nothing to do with the changes they made.