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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 01, 2012

FCC's Policy Threatens to Take Away Free TV Channels: Blessing in Disguise?

By David Gitonga, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Enjoy the fun harnessed from a couple of basic channels that are accessible free of charge by simply plugging into the wall without using your cable box. This looming change in the TV and cable bill originates from the passing of a new FCC policy that allows cable companies to take away this manna-like opportunity.

The policy gives big cable companies permission to block users from accessing certain free channels hence evoking the need to invoke the services of a box or a similar gadget to access the channels at a possible additional fee.

The good news is that FCC is actually looking out for the interests of the subscribers. The policy encourages companies to develop and deploy new technologies aimed at benefiting users in the end. The move is intended to make companies like Boxee (News - Alert) and other big names in the market take up these underdeveloped channels and turn them unique and enjoyable. This is all it takes to push the whole industry forward, at an extra little fee of course.

By giving cable TV providers a reason to venture into these free channels, market forces will be unleashed to freely control demand from customers and the quality delivered by service providers. The president of the American Cable Association believes that the policy will lead to a reduced theft of service, thus reducing the burden bestowed on loyal customers to counter the negative blows dealt by signal thieves.

There is however, no need to worry since no cable company has made a move to make cable boxes mandatory yet. Furthermore, FCC (News - Alert) has rules in place that protect consumers from sudden service cuts. Some of these rules include; getting a box for two TVs free for two years in case your company requires that you get one for the first time subscribers, while customers on Medicaid get TVs free for five years. Finally, those on premium service for one TV but plug into the wall for another qualify for one box free for a year for the second TV (the one they get by plugging into the wall).

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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