Some cable subscribers may have been "forced" into purchasing a set-top box and a more expensive digital subscription to receive certain basic cable channels, according to a new investigation launched by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FCC sent out letters (PDF) to Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and other major cable companies, requesting a tabular list of information, from the "number of overall subscribers in each affected cable system at the time of the analog-to-digital channel change" to "whether Company permitted subscribers affected by the analog-to-digital channel change to modify their service at no charge for 30 days after receiving notice of such change." Verizon Communications' FIOS network, which isn't explicitly a cable service, is also being investigated. The investigation doesn't affect satellite providers.
The investigation seems to have been initiated by a letter that the Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, sent to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, according to Ars Technica.
Switching to digital is good business for cable. The New York Times reported that Time Warner Cable and Cablevision had better than expected profit this quarter. While Time Warner attributed this to phone and Internet subscriptions, it still "lost 31,000 basic video subscribers in the quarter, but added 124,000 digital video subscribers." Cablevision also gained a significant amount of digital cable subscribers.… Read more