I was reading an article on how some cable companies may require higher fees by consumers to view DTV. It seems that the companies are quietly changing more and more stations to digital, leaving only some local stations in the analog format. In an article I just read, it seems that consumers than may be required to rent a cable box at additional fees. The article stated the following:

Take this report by HD Guru Gary Merson, who called NYC-area cable provider Cablevision posing as a regular customer and was told that “due to government regulation,” the company would no longer carry analog channels. As Gary points out, this is patently false–nothing in the government’s mandated transition prevents cable companies from continuing service as-is. They may, however, decide to force analog-only subscribers to get a digital subscription and the requisite box, which of course adds a monthly box rental fee and opens up the possibility of customers ordering lucrative Pay-Per-View and Video-On-Demand services.

Merson also reports that another area provider, Time Warner Cable, has reduced the number of analog, unscrambled channels–the ones you can watch by plugging the cable directly into the TV, without the need for a cable box–available on its system from 74 to 13, keeping only the local broadcast stations such as ABC, CBS, PBS, etc. A TWC spokeswoman told Merson that even those broadcast stations will have to go digital in February 2009, “requiring all subscribers to pay $7.35 a month for cable box for each television in your home” according to the report.

It seems that the FCC was aware that some cable companies could opt to go completely digital:

“If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box.” In other words, the DTV transition may affect cable subscribers after all, in the familiar form of increased fees.

Hopefully the transition will be smooth for everyone. But it appears that for some folks who have cable, there may be issues.

What do you think? Is the transition from analog to digital TV going to be a nightmare or will it be smooth sailing?

Comments welcome.