Is Your Cable Operator Remapping?
As a broadcast-basic cable subscriber, I'm entitled to receive unencrypted cable channels through my Sharp LCD HDTV's QAM tuner, including the HD-capable digital versions of the New York area's over-the-air stations. Imagine my dismay when the local Fox and CW affiliates abruptly disappeared from the digital channel lineup a couple of months ago. Going back to their wishy-washy 4:3 analog versions was downright painful.
Rather than complain, I decided to wait for the DTV transition's stage-one deadline (February 17, 2009) to see what happened then. My untested theory was that broadcast frequency hopping (though minimal in my area) might, for reasons I couldn't imagine, somehow trigger cable remapping. Something happened, all right--the rest of my digital channels disappeared. I sent an email to Time Warner Cable customer support asking for an explanation, helpfully adding that the response might be quoted here. Perhaps this was a bad idea, for I never got a response.
Had the channels just been remapped? Apparently so. When I finally had my TV rescan for digital channels, it found everything I expected, much to my pleasure and relief. It was interesting to see how the channel numbering had changed. For instance, my local PBS affiliate used to appear on channel 13 (analog) and channel 1.13 (digital). Now it appears under channels 13 (analog), 13.1 (digital), 13.2, and 13.3 (the latter two low-res multicast channels piggybacked onto the broadcast frequency).
Of course I could have avoided the confusion by using the cable box, but I hate keeping it in the rack, where it would sip power all day. It's been gathering dust for years. I should probably turn it in and get a few bucks knocked off my monthly bill. Please note that I have no grudges against Time Warner Cable, which provides a great HD picture, or its customer service people, who are usually helpful and professional.
But I'm wondering if stage one of the DTV transition has somehow triggered QAM channel remapping in other cable systems. If you're a boxless broadcast-basic cable subscriber and have any tales to tell, I'm all ears.