The rule that allows more than 12 million cable subscribers in the United States still using analog television sets to receive broadcast station signals without digital converter boxes will now expire in December, according to the latest reports. On December 12, 2012, the six-month extension to the rule will end along with the signals of must-carry stations in analog format. This is good news for cable companies, who will profit from the necessary converters and cable boxes that these cable customers will need to have once the rule expires.
Once the rule expires, cable customers will need either a digital converter or set-top box in order to be able to view all of their channels, including local channels. This total conversion to digital cable television is a victory for cable providers.
While some foreign language and local public access channels see this move as limiting, the move towards digital is actually a good one for the public as well. The move toward a unified, all-digital cable environment will actually allow cable providers to have more bandwidth to provide more channels, which is good for cable subscribers, and many non-cable customers using rabbit ear antennas to watch broadcast networks have already had to buy a digital converter. Cable providers like Charter Communications already provide digital boxes to all new subscribers, as do many satellite television providers like DIRECTV. The digital picture has resolution up to six times better than analog, even without high-definition (HD).
Many cable subscribers may wonder if they are among the 12 million who need to get a digital converter to be able to watch local channels before December. If you do not have a cable box, or have not purchased a digital converter already, you will need to do so. Contact your cable company today and they can help you, though going to Target or Wal-Mart to purchase one of your own may be more cost-effective.