October 9, 2008
10:40 AM -- The U.S. government is working to help consumers migrate from analog to digital broadcast television by offering $40 coupons toward the purchase of a TV converter box. The boxes typically sell for $50 to $80 or more, negating the feds goal of enabling a “free” transition for consumers for the February 17, 2009, switchover date. (See DTV Coupon Clippers .)
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is pitching an alternative with its “Get Ready" initiative. The idea: Forget the coupon and sign up for basic cable. (See Comcast Bows DTV Initiative and Free Cable! )
According to the MSO:
Comcast is offering low-cost solutions, including free basic cable for 12 months to those who sign up for at least one additional Comcast service. New customers who choose not to subscribe to additional Comcast services can get basic cable for just $10 a month for a full year.
Current customers can add basic cable to additional TVs at no additional monthly fee. Basic cable in most areas has 20-30 channels, including broadcast (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision, PBS), shopping and local neighborhood public television channels. Comcast basic cable does not require the purchase of any new equipment for cable-ready TVs, so consumers can continue to use their existing TVs and remote controls.
Since no antenna is needed, choosing cable also eliminates the worry about potential reception problems associated with using an antenna following the transition.
Sounds peachy, except the monthly price will kick up to about $15 a month for basic service after the one-year promotional period.
Will takers of this offer be outfitted with one of Comcast’s upcoming digital terminal adapters (DTAs)? (See DTAs on Parade and Comcast Doctoring Digital in Detroit .) Stay tuned.
— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News
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