Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
I keep hearing those Cox Cable commercials on the radio that tout "Free" HD in their ads.
Well, is it really free if you have to spend extra money for a converter box and a digital gateway fee to get the "Free" HD?
Sure, they keep touting how free they are, but in reality, you don't get the free HD channels with the corresponding packages that you are already paying for!
If they were really free HD channels, you would get more than just the seven local broadcast HDTV stations. You would be getting the HD versions of the analog channels in the clear according to the package you're paying for.
What I mean by "in the clear" is that you can receive such digital channels without the need of a digital converter box. You do need, however, an HDTV set or the equilavent hooked up to an old analog TV set in order to receive the digital broadcasts. Bear in mind that the over-the-air only digital converter boxes that are sold at Target, Walmart, Fry's, etc, are not designed for cable as they won't work with cable TV broadcasts as far as I know; they can't descramble encrypted cable channels.
The easiest way to hook up cable is to plug it in directly to the HDTV set. It's the year 2010. Why do we still need a Brady Bunch-era technology converter box even for an HDTV set? It's like needing a separate box to dial international calls with a telephone. It's just plain stupid.
What makes HD free is to have it included with the package you're paying for. I have TV Essential, yet I don't receive the HD version of 4SD. Huh? That is misleading advertising at best.
You can get 4SD with a TV Starter package, yet you won't get the HD version of 4SD if I can't get that HD version in my TV Essential package. That's not fair.
Let's take a look at Cox San Diego's pricing plans. The TV Starter package with just the local broadcast and local cable-only channels are $15 a month. For that, you should get the HD versions of the local channels for free with that. Do you? I'm guessing that you don't.
Then there's the TV Essential package for $49, which includes the channels in the TV Starter package. With that, you get the HD versions of seven of the local broadcast channels (Fox 5, CW 6, NBC 7, CBS 8, KUSI 9, ABC 10, and PBS 11), plus standard definition digital cable channels such as V-Me, News Channel 10, NBC Weather Plus, NBC Sports, Azteca America 15 (which is off of KGTV's digital subchannel 15), CSPAN-2, CSPAN-3, KSDX 29, Telefutura 36, UCSD TV, and several pay per view preview and informercial channels.
Here's what Cox is currently offering for their TV Essential package (not listed are the channels in the TV Started lineup except 4SD). I will note which channels have a corresponding HD channel with the (HD) mark.
2 USA (HD-728) 3 ESPN (HD-703) 4 4SD (HD-704) 19 ABC-FAM (HD-719) 28 ESPN2 (HD-702) 29 FSN (HD-729) 30 MTV (HD-730) 31 CNN (HD-731) 32 HLN 33 TBS (HD-733) 34 TNT (HD-734) 35 Discovery (HD-724) 36 TLC (HD-736) 37 FNC (HD-737) 38 Lifetime (HD-738) 39 MSNBC 40 BET (HD-768) 41 A&E (HD-741) 42 Bravo (HD-742) 43 FX (HD-743) 44 TruTV 45 Spike TV (HD-745) 46 VH1 (HD-746) 47 Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite (HD-747) 48 Comedy Central (HD-748) 49 E! (HD-749) 50 Cartoon Network (HD-750) 51 Golf Channel (HD-751) 52 Disney Channel (HD-752) 53 HGTV (HD-753) 54 Animal Planet (HD-754) 55 History Channel (HD-755) 56 Speed Channel (HD-756) 57 AMC (HD-757) 58 Turner Classic Movies 59 TV Land 60 Travel Channel (HD-760) 61 CMT (HD-761) 62 Food Network (HD-767) 63 Syfy (HD-763) 64 Galavision 65 Versus (HD-765) 66 CNBC (HD-762) 95 Shop NBC 96 Ion 99 TV GuideThat's HD versions of 37 analog cable channels that are on the Essential TV package! Do I get them in the clear so that my HDTV set? No. Do I have to pay $15 for a digital gateway package and an HD converter box to receive them? Yes. So are the HD channels free? Only if you pay $15 a month for the gateway and box. Will I do so? No. So do you get HD for free with just the TV Essential package? No. Therefore, Cox's free HD ads are misleading if you have to pay extra money to receive the free HD channels.
This is what I'm getting at. I should get all of the HD versions of the analog channels that I am already paying for in the packages that I have. Just getting seven local HD channels for free out of some 27 or 67 channel packages is misleading. I should be able to get 4SD in all of the packages in the clear. With TV Essential, I should be able to get all of the existing HD versions of the analog channels that I'm paying $33 an extra for.
What I should NOT get are the HD versions of channels I am not paying for. That means I don't get HD versions of The Science Channel, NFL Network, MLB HD, NBA HD, and NHL HD since they're not included in the TV Essential package. To get those HD channels, I would have to get an HD digital converter box rental, which costs money in electricity as well as $6 a month for the rental, a digital gateway costing some $9 a month, and who knows what else like extra money for advanced TV packs with confusing prices. That is totally unacceptable.
Cox Cable shouldn't be calling it Free HD if you have to pay extra to receive the channels that should come with the packages you're paying for.