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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 18, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Digital television conversion

Expect dropped channels

The impact of digital-TV conversion is more complex than some of the news articles have indicated, and it will hit many consumers’ pocketbooks in the midst of these tough economic times. Beyond the population that is using older analog television sets, those like us, who have been happily tuning in with their brand-new, high-definition televisions, could also be impacted.

I have had a high-definition TV for more than two years now and subscribe to Comcast Extended Cable Service without the clutter of a set-top box. Using the tuner in our high-definition TV, we have been able to view local channels, such as KOMO, KING, KONG and FOX that offer high definition.

So, believing Comcast’s ads and what we have been reading, we thought we would be all set to go for the conversion. We then found out that between February and November Comcast will start dropping channels over 29 as the digital conversion continues, and eventually every subscriber will need to use a set-top box if they want to receive any channels beyond 29.

The “free” set-top box offered by Comcast to solve this problem, however, prevents us from using our HDTV to access any of the high-definition, local channels. In order to continue to view these local channels in HD, we will need to pay Comcast for a HD converter box and programming.

What some Comcast subscribers end up with in this digital conversion is getting less for the same price.

The only way to maintain the viewing choices and not loose our HDTV investment is to pay Comcast more every month. So much for Comcast’s advertising of “Comcast customers don’t have to do a thing, you are all set.” A Comcast customer service agent told me that he could not understand why I was upset about this because Comcast didn’t ask me to go buy the high-definition TV. Some might say it’s just smart business on Comcast’s part; I say it’s another setback for consumers.

Anyone for more government oversight?

— Janet Rogers, Mercer Island

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