Many Comcast cable TV subscribers are going to need digital set-top boxes if they want to continue to watch their favorite shows.
Comcast is switching ESPN, CNN, Bravo and many other channels to digital-only signals on its network.
In the past, subscribers could watch those channels without connecting a set-top box to a TV, but Comcast spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert says that's going to end.
"What they need to do is go get boxes for their televisions. We are transmitting any signal for Basic 2 customers and above in a digital-only format," Schubert said. "We're turning off the analog signal and we're only going to be transmitting in a digital format."
Comcast will provide customers with up to three set-top boxes free of charge. The company says reducing analog channels permits faster Internet connection speeds, plus more high-definition channels and on-demand movie choices.
The boxes are compatible with digital and analog TVs. The change is unrelated to the national conversion to digital broadcasting that took effect last year.
The deadline for getting the devices varies by community. Comcast has more than 570,000 video customers in the greater metropolitan area. The project will be completed by the end of the year.
Because of filter failures or other reasons, some Comcast customers have received channels they don't pay for. The company says the number of subscribers involved is small and they'll lose the channels when they're converted to digital-only signals.
Comcast also says subscribers with the most basic TV service do not have to do anything. These "Basic 1" customers will continue to receive broadcast and public access channels without connecting set-top boxes to their TVs.
For more information visit http://digitalnow.comcast.com/ or call 877-634-4434.