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.

Brent_S's picture

I'm a TWC customer in the Wilmington, NC market. Our locals went all digital back in September. The channel remapping you're seeing on the unscrambled QAM channels only appeared here recently as well, but I don't remember how it related to 2/17/09. Most of the digital channels remapped to their analog counterparts as you're seeing (3.1,3.2,6.1,6.2 etc.) even though they don't actually match up with the CATV channels at 3,6, etc. Interestingly, our Fox network (analog 26) briefly appeared at 26.1 & 26.2, but then went back up 94.13 or something odd like that. Our digital PBS channels are still up there as well. That's a long winded way of saying I don't think it's a result of the transition so much as either a network upgrade by TWC or TWC finally implementing something they've been capable of for a while.-Brent

Dave B's picture

Comcast in Southwest Florida has been remapping channels on a frequent basis. NBC and ABC's local affiliates remapped channels have moved three times in recent weeks currently they are located at 84.5 & 84.6 even though the analog brothers are and always have been 2 and 7. Even more frustrating is that several other digital channels come in as channel 0 making it impossible to go to them directly; I have to save them as favorites and repeatedly press the favorite button and guess what channel I'm looking at. In my opinion they just what everyone to rent a cable box to increase revenue.

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