Why your cable bill might be more expensive, and how a new law could lower charges

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Why your cable bill might be more expensive, and how a new law could lower charges

You may be seeing a higher cable or internet bill if you subscribe to AT&T’s DirectTV or U-verse, Charter’s Spectrum internet, or Comcast’s Xfinity cable or internet and you’re not in a promotional or introductory offer contract.

It’s becoming an annual thing for companies to raise prices on TV and internet service. They blame rising programming costs and faster broadband speeds for the increases.

AT&T customers who have DirecTV and U-verse TV service will be seeing price hikes this month. An increase for some Charter customers with Spectrum internet already went into effect.

Comcast internet and cable customers will also be paying more. Comcast is boosting add-on fees as well. Broadcast TV fees are going up by as much as $4.50 a month. And there’s a $2 bump if you want to get regional sports networks.

Several companies are also reinstating data caps that were suspended during the early days of the pandemic lockdown, when so many people started working and going to school from home.

With data caps, you get a certain amount with your monthly plan. If you exceed that amount, you could get hit with overage charges or you might find that your download speeds are slowing down.

But there’s one bright spot for consumers. A new law now in effect requires cable and satellite TV companies to disclose the total monthly price of your bill when you sign up. That includes all charges, fees, and estimated taxes.

The law also bans those companies from charging you rental fees for routers and other equipment you provide yourself.

For those who are frustrated by these price hikes, you can always contact your internet or cable provider to see if there’s a way to lower your bill. If you’re considering cutting cable and switching to streaming, check out Consumer Reports’ streaming service guide. You can find the link on our website.

Source – https://www.wtkr.com/taking-action/consumer-reports/why-your-cable-bill-might-be-more-expensive-and-how-a-new-law-could-lower-charges

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Next Gen TV is free 4K TV with an antenna, and it’s coming this year

Cord cutters rejoice! Over-the-air TV is about to get a big upgrade: HDR, 120Hz refresh rates and better indoor reception. ATSC 3.0 is almost here.

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Comcast Van

Happy holidays from Comcast. Your cable bill is going up again.

Comcast is giving the gift of higher cable bills this holiday season.

Tens of millions of Xfinity customers will see their bills rise 3.6% nationwide, on average, the company said Thursday, as it boosts prices for broadband plans and hikes TV fees starting next week. Customers in the Philadelphia region have received notices of new prices effective Dec. 20, five days before Christmas.

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Comcast Sign

Comcast & Spectrum Are Raising Their TV Prices & Fees

By Luke Bouma on November 30, 2019 at 6:36 am CDT

Although there has been a lot of talk about Hulu raising the price of live TV, there has been little coverage about the cost of cable TV increasing. Both Comcast and Spectrum recently announced price hikes on TV customers.

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How to Improve Reception With Your Antenna When You Cut The Cord

An antenna is a great way to get a ton of 100% free HD channels. Not only will you get the big four – ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC – but you will likely also get a growing list of other channels. Antennas can also make great backups for when your internet is out but it can take a bit to get the most from your antenna.

So today we have 4 tips to help you improve the reception you get with your antenna:

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Many HOA’s Illegally Try to Block OTA Antennas

By Luke Bouma on July 29, 2019 – CordCuttersNews.Com

We often hear that a home owner’s association (HOA) or other similar groups will not let someone install an antenna on their condo or house. Yet the rules are clear, you have every legal right according to the FCC to install an antenna even on a condo if you own it. Yes according to the FCC HOAs can not legally prevent you from installing an antenna on your house or condo as long as you follow some rules the FCC has set.

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Cord Cutters Need to Rescan Their Antennas Because Some Channels Are Moving According to The FCC

By Luke Bouma on June 24, 2019

A few years ago, the FCC auctioned off locals forcing many channels to switch channel numbers. This auction freed up space for things like 5G. Now the time has come for many local TV stations to switch channel numbers, meaning you need to rescan your antenna.

That is in addition to all the new locals that went live earlier this year and will be rolling out later this year. One or more of them may be right where you live; however, if you don’t look you will never know they are there.

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How the Growth and Evolution of the Over-the-Air TV Home Fits into Today’s Viewing Landscape

01-31-2019 – Over-the-air (OTA) TV—the programming that we all have access to even if we don’t have a cable or satellite programming subscription—is becoming a big thing again. In fact, it’s one of the best things to happen to cord cutters and cord shavers, as it offers them free TV through a digital antenna. Even better, with the shift to digital broadcasting a decade ago, they’re getting even more channels for free—and in great HD quality. Because of our comprehensive panel approach, our data is inclusive of all household types, including OTA, which allowed us to conduct deep insights and analysis in this important growing segment. So what do we know about OTA households? We recently dived into the data to find out more about them—particularly, how many there are, what they look like and how they consume media.


According to May 2018 Nielsen population estimates, as detailed in our latest Local Watch report, there are over 16 million OTA homes in the U.S. That comes out to just over 14% of households. Back in 2010, that number was much lower—5 million less, to be exact. That’s an increase of almost 50% over eight years. And as an increasing number of consumers consider a more à-la-carte approach to their TV sources, there is opportunity for this segment to continue growing.


While many of us may equate OTA TV with “rabbit ears” and a physical dial on the TV set, today’s, OTA homes aren’t what they used to be—just like the technology isn’t the same. Today, these homes are a mix of audience groups that consume TV content in different ways. Some are standard OTA homes that access programming with a digital antenna, but most pair their OTA line-up with streaming services. As of May 2018, 41% of OTA homes are traditional, without a streaming service provider. That means the majority subscribe to a streaming service (59%). Nielsen data paints a vivid picture of these two very different groups, revealing some surprising gaps in age, ethnicity and income. Suffice to say, the only thing these households have in common is the absence of cable cords and satellite dishes.

To further muddy the waters, a third type of OTA home subscribes to a virtual video multichannel programming distributor (vMVPD), commonly known as a “skinny bundle,” which allows them to stream cable programs. This group falls directly into the streaming service segment (Plus SVOD) that makes up 59% of OTA homes. As of May 2018, it accounted for 8% of OTA, or 1.3 million homes.


Three hours each day comes out to roughly 1,100 hours per year, which represents the amount of time the average adult in an OTA home spends watching broadcast content on TV. While that’s a big number, it can be deceiving. Behind the scenes, three very different audience segments (no SVOD; OTA + SVOD; OTA + SVOD w/vMVPD) make up that number. So which segment is watching the most content? Those without SVOD spend a whopping 4 hours and 51 minutes with broadcast TV each day. But, the story is different for the others. Higher fragmentation driven by internet-connected device usage brings broadcast viewing down, but SVOD homes with and without a vMVPD still clock over an hour per day. Cable viewing picks up steam with vMVPD access, but still lags behind broadcast viewing. Regardless of OTA home type, broadcast TV is a daily go-to source for content on the TV screen.



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Over-the-Air TV is Booming in U.S. Cities

03-11-2019 – Despite the prevalence of digital technologies rippling through many aspects of our daily lives, an increasing percentage of Americans are embracing over-the-air (OTA) television. And in looking at findings from Nielsen’s most recent Local Watch Report, we see an upward trend in the adoption of digital OTA tuners. But while the 16 million OTA homes (as of May 2018) paints an overarching national picture, our comprehensive panel approach to TV measurement allows us to dive into the data to understand the different types of OTA viewers across the U.S. and where they’re most likely to live.

While the majority of U.S. homes still subscribe to a pay-TV service (cable or satellite), the shift to free broadcast TV suggests that folks are exploring alternatives. And with a myriad of internet options available today, many of them aren’t mutually exclusive with their viewing options. Rather, they’re pairing their broadcast local news and network stations with a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service.

According to Nielsen’s TV panel, 59% of OTA homes have access to SVOD and 41% don’t. And things get even more interesting when we factor in a third underlying segment: OTA homes that subscribe to a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD). These services provide a broad range of video content through an internet connection (rather than through wired cable or satellite). Consumers who supplement their OTA viewing with “skinny bundles” from vMVPD services can stream programs to their smart TVs and mobile devices. Small but growing, these consumers make up 8% of OTA homes, which comes out to about 1.3 million U.S. households.

While these numbers tell the big-picture story, we can take things further by drilling down to local markets, which reveal some surprising differences in OTA status. In looking at Nielsen data, we see a high concentration of OTA homes in the Southwest region, averaging 19% of households in those areas. This makes sense, since this area is popular among Hispanics—a group, according to our profile data—that is 48% more likely to have OTA status than the average U.S home.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Northeasterners are more likely to stick to their cable packages, with only 7% of households having OTA access. This region also experienced the smallest year-over-year growth. Designated market-level (DMA) stats from the Local Watch Report support these findings, with markets like Albuquerque and Phoenix topping the list for presence of OTA homes. Meanwhile, markets like New York and Boston rank among the lowest for OTA penetration. Milwaukee is an interesting outlier, as it has the highest penetration for both OTA homes with and without SVOD. Dayton came out on top for the market most likely to pair OTA with vMVPD.


Percent of households by over-the-air type, May 2018
Source – https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/over-the-air-tv-is-booming-in-us-cities.print.html

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Antenna Users: Rescan to Keep Getting Free TV

It’s important because many TV stations are moving to new broadcast frequencies

By James K. Willcox
July 26, 2018

With more of us looking to find ways to save money on our monthly TV bills, it’s no surprise that TV antennas have made a comeback.

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Cable’s Netflix bundling deals aren’t stopping customers from cutting the cord

They’ve tried to play nice. They’ve tried to play hardball. But nothing the cable companies do is stopping the affliction terrorizing the TV industry.

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Cord cutting test drive: We tried Mohu antenna for free TV channels

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – We’d tried other over-the-air antennas before, and the results were dismal. A fuzzy picture, at best.

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Over 15 Million Americans Use an Antenna for FREE Over-the-Air TV

By Luke Bouma on July 5, 2018

Ten years ago, the antenna to receive over-the-air TV was a dying trend. Increasingly, Americans ditched antennas in favor of cable TV. Now that trend has reversed with the growth of cord cutting.

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VHF vs. UHF – Why OTA Frequency Bands Matter for Cord Cutters with Antennas

Over-the-Air (OTA) TV signals are distributed across two different frequency bands: UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency). 

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Old House Handyman: Replacing TV antenna is ‘back to the future’

By Alan D. Miller | The Columbus Dispatch
Posted Jun 10, 2018 at 5:00 AM Updated Jun 10, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Like many other families, we bought “cable-ready” televisions because we wanted to take them home and hook them directly to the cable.

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If you could pick just five television networks to watch, which ones would you choose? The TVB asked viewers that question in its annual Media Comparisons Study, conducted in partnership with GfK. The big four broadcast networks were Americans’ top selections—with a cable network taking fifth place. But it had only half the support of the fourth-place network. “That’s a strong story for broadcast,” says TVB Chief Research Officer Hadassa Gerber.

Similar results were reported among Hispanics. After the two big Spanish-language broadcast networks, they placed two English-language broadcast networks in their top five, followed by a cable network. “There are tons of channels that are available to people, but what it shows is people don’t necessarily watch all of those channels,” Gerber says. “That’s what we see when we give them a choice of five—that four of them are broadcast.”

Source – http://www.spotsndots.com/viewers-opt-for-broadcast-tv-over-cable/article_1f3442be-5e3b-11e8-a3ec-170c7a53ef15.html


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ATSC 3.0: The future of free antenna TV is coming, eventually

Everything a cord cutter needs to know about free over-the-air 4K HDR broadcasts.

by Geoffrey Morrison | June 3, 2018 4:00 AM PDT

It’s been two years since we last wrote about ATSC 3.0, also known as “Next Gen TV,” and a lot has changed. But with the breakneck speed of change in other areas of TV — namely streaming video — the new version of free antenna TV is moving at a snail’s pace.

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Cord-Cutting On The Rise As Cable TV Rates Have Skyrocketed Since 2000

Are you one of the millions of Americans that are sick and tired of paying high rates for cable TV and satellite packages? Many are paying outrageous prices for dozens (or even hundreds) of channels that they probably don’t even watch. Given the rising costs of TV packages, more and more people are cutting the cord.

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HDTV Antenna Review: Top Picks From CR’s Latest Tests

More cord-cutting consumers are turning to antennas and free over-the-air TV

By James K. Willcox and Claudio Ciacci |April 06, 2018

TV antennas might seem like a relic of a bygone era, when the number of channels you received could be counted on one hand. But as consumers try to trim their ever-escalating cable and satellite TV bills, antennas are making a comeback.

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Fix-It Chick: Install an outdoor antenna to reach over-the-air digital channels

Installing an outdoor antenna is an easy way to stretch your entertainment dollars. Most homeowners can legally install an outdoor antenna, as long as it does not reach more than 12 feet above the roof line, does not create any safety risks and does not impede upon existing neighborhood covenants.

Step 1: Use an internet search to locate TV broadcast towers near the home. The Over the Air Digital TV website otadtv.com has a wealth of information as well as detailed maps and coordinates for tower locations. For those who want to dabble in geometry, mathematics and geography, technical data for optimal antenna location is available. Otherwise, pointing an antenna in the direction of the closest TV tower will usually suffice.

Step 2: Antennas can be mounted on the side of a home, on the roof or on a free-standing antenna tower. Antennas can also be installed in a home’s attic. Attic installations will reduce the signal strength and possibly limit the number of channels that can be received, but the ease of installation and the aesthetics of not having an antenna mounted on the outside of a home may outweigh the negative signal impact.

Step 3: Choose an antenna and mounting hardware that best suits the needs and budget of the homeowner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and assemble the antenna and accessories.

Step 4: Use the existing television cable connections or run new RG-6 four-wire coaxial cable to the rooms where televisions will be used.

Step 5: Install a coax ground block where the cable enters the home. Run a 10 gauge or heavier grounding wire from the coax ground block to a grounding rod or earth grounded pipe.

Step 6: Determine the ideal location for the antenna based on the proximity of broadcast towers. Antennas work best when mounted thirty feet above the ground in an unobstructed space away from metal, wire and other signal blocking materials.

Step 7: Before mounting the antenna, attach the antenna cable to a working television and with the help of a friend, use the picture quality and channel reception to determine the optimal antenna mounting position.

Step 8: Mount the antenna in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Coat any screw holes with an elastomeric sealant.

Step 9: Run a grounding wire from the antenna to an earth grounded rod.

Step 10: Attach the antenna wire to the television cable and enjoy.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at hardware@sunflower.com.

Source: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2018/mar/24/fix-it-chick-install-outdoor-antenna-reach-over-ai/