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The Bottom Line: Basic Cable Scramble

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:17 PM EDT

ALBANY -- It's one of the top consumer complaints we hear from you: that the cost of your monthly cable bill is too high.

Now, a recent change on the federal level paves the way for another cost to possibly raise your bill even higher.

A little-known decision by the FCC late last year is allowing cable companies to scramble basic channels, once the company goes all-digital.

What that means? 

If you have more than one television set in the house, every one of those sets will now have to have a cable box.

Edgar Dworsky, the Boston-based founder of Consumer World, explains to Dori Marlin what happens if you don't get the boxes.

"Starting in two days, I'm gonna get snow on all those and be forced to rent a cable box - in fact, an HD cable box - if I want to keep watching HDTV," he says. "The FCC has said companies have to give you 1-2 cable boxes free for a year or two, but after that, you have to rent them."

The cost of renting them?  $10 per month, for each additional cable box.

Plus, Dworsky says the free box the cable company gives you will likely be "standard definition" instead of "high definition" - meaning you'd have to pay another $10 just to upgrade it.

Dworsky suggests that if you contact your provider, they may at least give you the upgraded box for free.

Dori checked on our local cable providers:

Mid-Hudson Cable just made the switch this month, and has already sent letters to customers saying they "will" need to have to the boxes.

Time Warner Cable tells Dori, they have no plans to digitize in the forseeable future - but she'll let you know if that changes.

If you use a Direct Broadcast Satellite system, like DirecTV or Dish Network, the change will not impact you.  The same is true for subscribers of Verizon FIOS, as the service already requires all televisions to have box-top sets.


The Bottom Line: Basic Cable Scramble

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