The rooftop TV antenna is all but extinct now, replaced by buried cable wires and fancy satellite dishes. That poses a problem for someone that doesn’t care about watching premium cable shows like Duck Dynasty, Game of Thrones or Mad Men. If you’re just looking to get a clear picture for watching the old staples like 60 Minutes, Good Morning America or sporting events that come on broadcast network channels, your best bet is to find a program that offers the best basic cable channels.
Cable companies are required by law to offer a package that includes only the basic cable channels. Since these packages are generally pretty cheap – in some cases under $20 a month – they won’t be widely advertised. In fact, they might not even be advertised on the company’s website. They don’t like selling these packages because there’s little room for upgrades and they like to make people think that the cheapest option is something that includes a few premium channels. This isn’t the case, so make sure if all you want is basic cable channels that you call your local provider and ask them directly.
There is a difference between the ‘limited basic cable channels’ and the ‘expanded basic cable channels’ and the price can go up if you’re looking for the latter. The ‘limited basic cable’ package usually includes all the broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc., local government channels and education channels. The ‘expanded basic cable’ package is when you start adding in things like MTV, ESPN, FOX News, CNN and the like. The charge isn’t universal and may be more than you want to pay, if that’s the case, you’re more than welcome to stick with the ‘limited basic cable’ option. Cable companies will do everything in their power to upsell you to a higher package, but don’t feel pressured into buying something you don’t want – or worse – can’t afford.
It used to be that if you had a coaxial cable sticking out of your wall, you could connect it to your television and pick up a few of the limited basic cable channels. Everyone accepted it as a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” type thing. That’s not the case anymore. Cable companies have begun encrypting their channels to cut back on service theft. It was a decision passed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and immediately adopted by the cable companies that need to further tighten their purse strings. Now, no matter what type of cable you want, some companies will require you to rent or purchase a set-top box that will act as the middle-man between a cable provider and your television.
Just remember that basic cable is still an option and it’s usually pretty cheap. You just have to make sure that if you need equipment that you’re not overpaying for it and that you’re not bound to a contract you can’t afford for a long period of time. Basic cable channels are out there, they’re available and they’re cheap. You just have to do a little bit of digging and a little bit of asking to get them.