On Dec. 8, Time Warner Cable will move eight channels to digital for those in Orange County and Los Angeles. That means customers who get cable TV service by plugging a TV into the wall or using an older analog cable box will need to upgrade to digital equipment.
The change will make room for several new HD channels, including AMC HD, The Weather Channel HD, History International HD, ESPNU HD and “many more,” according to a letter sent to subscribers this week. Next month starts the company’s kickoff to reach 100 HD channels.
The analog channels that are moving – KWHY, Shop NBC, AMC, The Weather Channel, ABC Family, Oxygen, TruTV and Style — will all still be exist on the same channel number, but only in a digital format. If you don’t have a digital set-top box, you won’t be able to access them.
For customers who don’t have a digital box, Time Warner will let you borrow one for free for one year. This offer only applies to households without a digital box. If you already lease digital boxes but have an extra TV plugged into the wall, you’ll need to pay for a digital box to get all the channels on that TV.
|The Weather Channel||47|
“With more digital carriage space available, we will be able to free up bandwidth for future uses, such as launching new channels, providing more services and offering even more HD, not to mention, this will enhance picture quality and sound on existing services,” said Darryl Ryan, Time Warner Cable’s local director of media relations.
Lots of things are going on here including:
1. Time Warner is maxed out on capacity for TV channels so it’s moving some space-hogging analog channels to digital. Time Warner says that one analog channel occupies the same space as about 12 standard digital channels or about 3 HD channels.
2. This won’t end channel duplication. The Weather Channel, for example, will continue to live on 47 and 204.
3. As mentioned, this creates room for more HD channels.
4. Time Warner hints that another technology is on the way. In the letter, the company says certain users will need a special adapter to get the channels. That’s not totally correct, Ryan said. While the company plans to move some channels to switched digital video technology, it hasn’t done so yet except during a test in the San Fernando Valley. The technology turns a regular channel into on-demand only so it doesn’t take up space by broadcasting all the time. When a viewer turns to a switched channel, there may be a slight delay before it begins broadcasting. Customers with CABLEcards and TiVo’s or Digeo DVRs won’t be able to get the switched channels unless they have a special adapter. This hasn’t started in Orange County yet. If any readers notice they can’t get the channels, please let me know. (Read some earlier stories on switched technology HERE.)
Ultimately, the changes will affect a minority of customers, according to Time Warner. Most won’t notice any change. Time Warner says that about 80 percent of its Southern California customers have digital equipment.
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