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Visitor
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎04-17-2009

Comcast now charges for PBS

Comcast recently removed PBS, specifically, WHYY Philadelphia from it's regular menu and you now have to buy a Hi DEf box at $4.50 per month to receive a public ( Free ) television channel.  I think this is an outrage that Comcast would be so greedy as to charge for public access television.  They (Comcast ) make a big deal that they 've got you covered for the digital conversion but wait until that happens and they beging requiring boxes to get their signal.  This kind of stupid business move is playing right into Verizon's hand.

 

Comcast executives need to rethnk this dumb move.

Recognized Contributor
Posts: 874
Registered: ‎07-03-2003

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

It's very unlikely that you need an HD box to view WHYY. It sounds like they shifted the channel from analog to digital, meaning that you'll need some sort of converter to access the channel. As WarEagle57 points out in this thread, however, there's a very good chance that Comcast will provide you with a free converter.
Visitor
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎04-17-2009

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

Whether it's Hi Def or not the fact that you need another device to see free public television is the point that Comcast doesn't seem to get or care about.  Whats's going to happen with the switch to digital?  We were all told we wouldn't need any boxes now that seems to be a lie.
Silver Problem Solver
andyross
Posts: 3,537
Registered: ‎10-17-2003

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

If you have a TV with a QAM tuner, you can typically still pick up local broadcast channels for free, although you may need to get used to weird channel numbers, like 123-15 instead of 11.
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Posts: 12
Registered: ‎07-06-2003

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

I just lost the new jersey pbs stations. I guess they are trying to keep Vios and Direct tv in business by constantly removing channel's from basic cable but never lowering the  rate for less & less service.
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Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-26-2008

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

[ Edited ]

Actually, this is a choice by the PBS station.  In my area, we have two PBS stations, you probably do as well.  Any secondary (not as local) PBS station has the option to remain analog, or switch to digital and have an HD channel as well.  Almost every secondary PBS station chose to move to the digital lineup and also have an HD broadcast.  It is part of a national agreement between the Association of Public Television Stations and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.  Its the way of the world, everything is going to digital service.  In my area, Comcast offers a digital box at a $2 monthly charge.  IMO its worth it, along with your PBS broadcast, you also get any other channel that has moved off the basic/standard lineup to a digital feed, as well as access to OnDemand and the interactive program guide.  HD is extra, of course, also...  100% worth whatever the cost :smileyhappy:

 

*edit for spelling

Message Edited by Tack on 04-21-2009 02:24 AM
Regular Contributor
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎01-21-2004

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

We've lost NJN in northern New Castle County Delaware.  I just found out last night while flipping through the channels on our non-converter box TV.  If Comcast continues to do this, I going to start looking for another service...

Contributor
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎11-23-2008

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

Notfair,

 

Please understand that this isn't Comcast's doing. With the induction of the DTV transistion a LOT of networks are choosing to move to a Digital transmission of their channels rather than analog. Digital Starter (which is Full Basic with a box) is usually the same price as the Full Basic package (or a few dollars more) than you are currently paying.

 

Digitial tranmission of channels is MUCH better and more preferred over analog transmission.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎01-21-2004

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS


shannonkish wrote:

Notfair,

 

Please understand that this isn't Comcast's doing. With the induction of the DTV transistion a LOT of networks are choosing to move to a Digital transmission of their channels rather than analog. Digital Starter (which is Full Basic with a box) is usually the same price as the Full Basic package (or a few dollars more) than you are currently paying.

 

Digitial tranmission of channels is MUCH better and more preferred over analog transmission.


Ummmmm I don't think so.  Comcast appears to be moving channels a few at a time to the digital tier.  I already am aware of the better picture of a digital transmission.  Do you think I'm an **bleep**?  I have a digital box in my livingroom.  We've already lost the ability to watch STYLE and AMC on other tv's in the house, one of which is a digital set without a box, because Comcast is scrambling the signals when they move them.  The only reason we have been staying with Comcast is because we haven't been required to have a box for every set.  If that changes, we will no longer be Comcast customers.  Digital transmission is not necessarily better than analog, because the over-the-air signal is easily blocked by buildings etc.  The way I understand it, the picture might be better, but a lot of people who are on the fringes and still able to receive an analog signal, may not be able to receive the digital signal.

Recognized Contributor
Posts: 596
Registered: ‎06-27-2006

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

There seem to be two complaints being voiced in this thread: 1) Analog channels going digital & 2) Comcast scrambling/encoding channels...

 

1) If the station chooses to go all-digital then analog customers are out of luck, unless they use a d/a converter device that transforms that digital signal back to analog. This is obviously independent of what Comcast is doing. Comcast is also engaging in an analog reclamation project to convert as many current analog channels as possible to digital & free up lots of bandwidth (for offering more channels, especially HD's). As another poster stated, this is the way the entire industry is going, as far as I know the satellite providers are already all-digital...

 

2) I believe that Comcast should not be scrambling "local" stations (1-29), but can & is scrambling pretty much everything else even though they "don't have to". I think that part of customers' frustration comes from the company blaming this additional encryption on the move to digital, but not all digital has to be encrypted so they're really two different initiatives. Here's some info about all of this:  http://philadelphia.about.com/b/2009/02/10/once-again-comcast-sticks-it-to-us.htm

 

If the OP's local PBS station is actually being scrambled (as opposed to having being moved from analog to digital) then I think that would be legitimate cause for a complaint to Comcast. STYLE & AMC are obviously not "local" stations so CC can choose to scramble those, and apparently has. This is not to make excuses for them, just trying to clarify that there are multiple changes happening here...

 

 

Silver Problem Solver
andyross
Posts: 3,537
Registered: ‎10-17-2003

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS


shannonkish wrote:

Notfair,

 

Please understand that this isn't Comcast's doing. With the induction of the DTV transistion a LOT of networks are choosing to move to a Digital transmission of their channels rather than analog. Digital Starter (which is Full Basic with a box) is usually the same price as the Full Basic package (or a few dollars more) than you are currently paying.

 

Digitial tranmission of channels is MUCH better and more preferred over analog transmission.


Just because a BROADCAST channels goes all digital doesn't mean Comcast has to drop their analog feed. In fact, analog feeds of most broadcast channels will continue long after broadcast goes digital. Here in Chicago, WYCC (broadcast 20), went digital-only a few weeks ago, but is still available as analog on Comcast.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎01-21-2004

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

[ Edited ]

wolf0621 wrote:

 

If the OP's local PBS station is actually being scrambled (as opposed to having being moved from analog to digital) then I think that would be legitimate cause for a complaint to Comcast. STYLE & AMC are obviously not "local" stations so CC can choose to scramble those, and apparently has. This is not to make excuses for them, just trying to clarify that there are multiple changes happening here...

 

 


I have verified that Comcast has encrypted NJN.  I can no longer receive it on my digital set connected directly to the cable.  The only set we now receive it on is the one with the Comcast's digital box. While it wasn't the only PBS station that we receive - we also get WHYY, which is the Philadelpia/Wilmington station, but NJN did carry some different programming.  It looks like they are going the route of other providers and we will eventually have to have a box for every set, which will make my little digital tv in the kitchen obsolete, since there is no room for a box and the set doesn't accept one a card.

 

Andyross, thank you for your sensible post.

Message Edited by notfair on 04-24-2009 03:42 AM
Message Edited by notfair on 04-24-2009 03:43 AM
Recognized Contributor
Posts: 596
Registered: ‎06-27-2006

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

Again, it's true that Comcast doesn't have to drop the analog feed for stations that go digital, but based on what's happening to all other CC channels & their overall analog reclamation strategy, I really wouldn't bet on those analog broadcasts continuing for too much longer (unless legally mandated to do so). And I definitely wouldn't base that on a couple of weeks' worth of experience in one market where analog feeds have continued. I suspect that once Project Cavalry nears its end CC will be looking to phase out analogs whereever they can...
Regular Problem Solver
Posts: 509
Registered: ‎04-03-2008

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

This has to do with what PBS station has been designated as the "primary" station for your area. Many areas receive multiple PBS stations either over the air or on cable. 

When I lived in the DC area, I had access to at least four different PBS stations...now in PA I get three different PBS stations. Not sure if that is an efficient use of bandwith (channel space) to carry three PBS channels when I would much rather get additional (and different) regular or HD channels.... but that's just my opinion.

PBS stations are also still available over the air today for free with an antenna (and after June 12, still free with a DTV digital to analog converter subsidized by our government). No need to pay to get PBS.

 

Found this in the Wilimington News Journal online.. 

 

 http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009904190348

 

Comcast ups prices on public TV for someBy AARON NATHANS, Wilmington News Journal 4/19/09  Some Comcast customers will have to pay more to watch their local public television station.In Sussex County, Comcast analog customers -- those who subscribe to limited basic or expanded basic -- have lost WDPB, the WHYY public television station broadcast out of Seaford. The station broadcasts the half-hour news show "Delaware Tonight," among its other PBS offerings. Those customers are also losing Shop NBC and the Comcast Network.In New Castle County, analog Comcast customers last week lost New Jersey public station NJN and the Philadelphia public TV station WYBE, which is also known as MiND.To get them back, customers will need a digital set-top box. The first box will be free for expanded basic customers, but boxes for additional televisions will cost $4.95 after 12 months, Comcast reported.For limited basic customers in New Castle County, customers will have use of the box for free for 12 months, but pay $1.40 a month after that. Sussex and Kent County customers will get the use of one box free for 12 months, and pay $1.10 thereafter.That would put southern Delaware customers in the position of paying a premium to receive a station they are already paying for with their tax dollars. WHYY receives $500,000 from the state of Delaware for its programming. It also receives federal funding."How can they take that away when it's paid for in taxpayer dollars and public support?" said Karen Falk, a Rehoboth Beach resident who is an expanded basic customer.Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said customers can get set-top boxes at local Comcast service centers. A self-installation kit is included.Set-top box or not, each market will retain at least one public television station. In New Castle County, WHYY will stay. In Sussex, customers will get Maryland Public Television's WCPB, which Alexander called "the primary PBS station in Sussex County."Customers were notified of the changes in their bills, but apparently not everyone saw them. Valerie Pursell, who works in donor and audience relations at New Jersey Public Television, said that as of 1 p.m. Friday, her office received more than 50 calls from Comcast customers from around the region who were losing the station.Pursell said she has been telling callers they are entitled to two free set-top boxes each. But Alexander said that is incorrect. Each customer receives just one set-top box."We understand this may have confused people and some information was given out incorrectly. We apologize for any misunderstandings, but our intention is to deliver the facts," Alexander said.With the use of the box, Comcast is adding more content and sub-channels, Alexander said. Expanded basic customers using set-top boxes will receive Bloomberg TV, C-Span 3, Lifetime Movie Network, Jewelry Television and Shop NBC. They also will receive thousands of free on-demand programs, about 45 music channels and an interactive on-screen guide.In Sussex County, all customers will also receive the three WDBP sub-channels."Our aim was to make it as easy and cost effective to bring these new benefits into the home," Alexander said.Patricia Tucker, a Wilmington resident, was upset when she heard the public stations were going away, and was confused about what she needed to do to retain them."It's a chore," she said of having to get the box, set it up and test it to make sure it works correctly. She worried others would simply lose the channels without knowing they could get them back.Tucker, who is upset that she has lost channels from her expanded basic package in recent years, urged the city of Wilmington to get Verizon to offer FioS in the city to encourage competition.In Kent County, the only station to now require a set-top box is the Comcast Network.HOW TO RECEIVE A SET-TOP BOXTo receive a set-top box, Comcast customers should call (800) 266-2278 or visit a service center.In New Castle County21 E. Basin Road Suite 20 Pennmart Shopping Center New Castle, DE 19720In Kent County5729 W. Denneys Road Dover, DE 199018:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday, Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.In Sussex CountyLewes 1111 Coastal Highway Lewes, DE 199588:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday, Saturdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (April - October) and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (November - March)Seaford 644 N. Dual Highway Seaford, DE 199738:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday, Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. year round 

     

 

Regular Contributor
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎01-21-2004

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS


tedtv wrote:

This has to do with what PBS station has been designated as the "primary" station for your area. Many areas receive multiple PBS stations either over the air or on cable.

When I lived in the DC area, I had access to at least four different PBS stations...now in PA I get three different PBS stations. Not sure if that is an efficient use of bandwith (channel space) to carry three PBS channels when I would much rather get additional (and different) regular or HD channels.... but that's just my opinion.


Let me say that I don't give a hoot about more HD channels.  I can't afford to subscribe to HD right now.  The digital starter and internet packages cost me enough money.  My complaint is that people with digital sets could receive these channels, but Comcast is encrypting them.  You'd think that not having to have multiple boxes would be a selling point for them since all the other services do require them.  As I've said, my one tv is not in a good spot for an additional box anyway.  As for the free boxes, I don't think I would qualify as the article seems to discuss free boxes for those with basic services.

 

When they have switched all the channels I like to watch over to digital and encrypt them to the point I have to get a box for every tv, I will seriously consider leaving them for another service if it's cheaper and better.

Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎04-25-2009

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

PBS was the decideing factor in switching to digital, they upgraded recording equipment and wanted to provide the better picture and sound quality that digital allows for. were confusing the digital transition with what comcast and yor local TV stations are doing individually. Comcast did not suddenly decide to charge for a local over the air channel, the channel decided to change to digital requiering Comcast cutomers to get a digital box to recieve that channel. Fortunatly comcast will provide the first digital cable box free in most areas and packages, but go with most any other provider and you will be required to get a box for any tv you want a signal for in the home. The ultimate goal  for any provider is to offer the best content at the best price.
Regular Problem Solver
Posts: 509
Registered: ‎04-03-2008

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

There was a letter to the editor that appeared in the Wilimington News Journal today from Comcast:

 

http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200990427076

I would like to respond to the April 19 article (“Comcast ups prices on public TV for some”) regarding the digital delivery of some public television stations in Delaware.

 Through a partnership between Comcast and public broadcasters – WHYY, MiND (WYBE) and NJN – Comcast digital cable customers now have access to more public broadcasting programming than ever before. Approximately 85 percent of all of our customers in Delaware, as well as customers who obtain a set-top box from Comcast at no additional cost, now have access to several new channels. In New Castle County, this includes the addition of NJN 2 and more channels from MiND next month.
In Sussex County, Comcast customers now have access to WDPB-HD as well as Y Arts and Y Info, all programmed for WDPB by WHYY. These enhancements are a result of the change to digital-only distribution of these channels – an election made by these stations and supported by Comcast, enabling the expansion of public broadcasting choices for our customers.
We are making it easy and inexpensive for analog customers to receive new programming without the need to change their level of service by providing a free digital box for at least 12 months for any customer who does not currently have one. Standard cable customers can receive a digital box from Comcast at no additional cost, allowing them to continue viewing NJN and MiND in New Castle, and WDPB in Sussex (as well as the additional channels) while experiencing other services like the interactive program guide, 10,000 On Demand offerings and digital picture and sound quality.
All of Comcast’s Delaware customers, whether they are analog or digital cable subscribers, are still able to receive PBS programming made available on their area’s primary PBS stations – WHYY in New Castle and Kent, and WCPB (Maryland Public Television) in Sussex. Comcast customers in the state – with or without a digital box from Comcast – will continue to receive primary PBS channels, even after the federally mandated digital transition scheduled for June 12.
Please know we work hard to communicate changes to our customers well in advance and through a multitude of ways including newspaper ads, letters, channel crawls and set-top box messages. We encourage customers to contact us with questions at (800) COMCAST to learn more about the enhanced selection of PBS programming now available.
Michael Ortman is vice president of programming for Comcast Eastern Division.
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Posts: 2
Registered: ‎04-28-2009

Re: Comcast now charges for PBS

You know what folks, i grew up with just 3 network channels over the air and if need be i'll go back to it and all these cable providers can go eat dirt. Most of the many channels have nothing but garbage and infomercials on them anyway. I think a little less tv would be good for everyone.