Cable TV doesn’t have to be expensive.
If cable television is offered in your area, chances are it’s available for a low price — even less than a dollar a day. Cable companies don’t advertise this service, but in many areas they are required to provide it. You could shell out hundreds of dollars for a new digital television, or sign up for cable with channels that you don’t need or want, or spend time trying to hook up a digital converter box. Instead, see how you can get basic cable television — for much less than you thought possible.
1. Know your rights. Most consumers are unaware that cable television providers are usually required by the FCC to provide a very basic level of service. There are fewer requirements in markets where there are a small number of subscribers, but if you live in a major metropolitan area, chances are this basic service is available to you. Although you won’t have any “premium” channels, you will have crystal clear reception of all local channels (including PBS), government access channels, C-SPAN, The Weather Channel and often several other channels, such as Hallmark, AMC, ESPN or ION.
2. Obtain the phone number for ordering cable in your area. Don’t waste your time looking online for information about this very basic service package, because cable companies are not required to advertise the service, only to provide it. They really don’t make any money on this service, so they have very little incentive to advertise it. It’s almost never listed on their web pages.
3. Call the service provider and ask for the “Limited Basic” service. The cost per month will vary, but generally is under $20 a month, as of time of publication.
4. Be persistent. At this point, the operator will probably try to talk you into another package that “offers more.” In fact, they will probably be offering a special — aren’t they always? But it’s important that you remain persistent and repeat that you want the Limited Basic level, that you only want it for reception, and that you are not interested in any other service. Explain that you want to order the “Limited Basic” “Basic Basic” or “Local Access” service — it may be called something else in your area, but the operator will know what level of service you are talking about.
5. Finally, there may still be a one-time installation fee, which is usually about $20. But after that, you can have basic cable service for an extremely affordable price every month. You will have excellent reception of all your local channels and a few more as well. But you won’t be paying a high cable bill every month.