Comcast digital conversion causes confusion

April 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
We've been telling you for months how to be ready for the big digital TV switch coming on June 12. But there is still confusion among thousands of cable TV suscribers.

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We've been telling you that if you subscribe to cable or satellite, you're all set for the DTV conversion. So why is Comcast telling people they need new equipment?

Helen Zisser has been hearing about the digital TV switch coming June 12 for months.

"I had been listening to Michael Finney and he said over and over and over again if you have Comcast or Dish, don't do anything you're all set," said Zisser.

Helen does have Comcast, so she thought she was ready, until Comcast called her up and said she could lose half her TV channels in June, if she didn't get a cable box.

"But I thought I was all set," said Zisser.

Without the box, Comcast said channels 32 through 84 would disappear. She'd lose some of her favorite channels Food Network, A&E, CNN, Disney and Animal Planet.

"I would desperately miss it I really would. The TV is my sole entertainment," said Zisser.

Helen didn't know what to believe. Are cable customers ready for digital TV -- or not?

So she called 7 On Your Side and we asked Comcast.

"That obviously confuses some of the folks out there and we're doing our best to let everyone know," said Andrew Johnson.

Here's the deal: if you're a Comcast customer you are ready for the nationwide DTV switch on June 12, but you may not be ready for Comcast's own digital conversion. It's being phased in around the Bay Area this year.

Comcast says about a quarter million Bay Area customers will need to get one of these boxes or lose channels 32 through 84 sometime this year.

"You won't be able to see Food Network, CNN or ESPN if you don't have one of these DTA devices," said

Here's how to know if you will need a box:

  • If you are a Comcast standard or expanded basic customer with an older analog TV set.
  • And you do not already have a Comcast digital box on your set.
  • And your TV is plugged directly into a Comcast cable that comes out of the wall.

    "There's about two in ten customers who have no boxes in their home and get just the coaxel out of the wall and those are the customers we're trying to reach out to," said Johnson.

    But there should be little or no cost to anybody. Comcast is offering up to three boxes per customer for free.

    You can plug them in yourself or Comcast will install the boxes on all your TV sets for a flat $15.99.

    But when we told Comcast about Helen, folks there stepped up.

    "We know there will be some customers who need a little more TLC," said Johnson.

    "Perhaps we'll have a resolution to this," said Zisser.

    And there was. Comcast came out, installed the box at no charge and Helen can watch her favorite channels with nary a hiccup.

    "I feel much better now I don't feel like my world is going to come to an end," said Zisser. The Comcast digital conversion is happening gradually, city by city. The company will call customers before making the switch in their particular neighborhood.

    Related Links:
    Comcast Digital Migration
    Frequently asked questions

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