What's on HDTV Page 2


Our national survey of cable systems indicates that pricing for HDTV channels is all over the map. The basic monthly cost, which typically includes the charge for leasing an HDTV-compatible cable box and some - but not necessarily all - of your network affiliates, ranges from $15 to $63. In some cases, the cable system doesn't carry any commercial or PBS stations in high-def, and the basic fee simply lets you subscribe to premium movie groups, specifically multiple channels of HBO or Showtime with their HDTV channels. In some places, the higher-priced systems include a handful of additional channels such as Discovery HD Theater, HDNet, HDNet Movies (HDNM), and ESPN HD. In others, these additional channels are priced as another premium tier. A few systems require you to buy an HDTV-compatible cable box for $450 to $499, while some may allow this as an alternative to leasing.

Cable marketers typically try to sell you banquet-size packages in which the HDTV channels, if offered at all, are buried. When you subscribe to hundreds of channels, the cost per channel is relatively low. Of course, if you never watch most of them, you may be better off subscribing to a basic package. Find out which HDTV local channels are included and which premium and additional high-def channels are offered on an à la carte basis.

- Michael Antonoff

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