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What is Basic Cable and How Do I Get It?

Basic Cable

Basic cable is the most affordable cable TV package for viewers – due to a must-carry rule set by the government, all cable TV companies must provide local broadcast channels for a lower rate than their other premium channels.

Usually, basic cable includes national broadcast channels, like ABC, CBS, The CW, and PBS. Several of your local channels (like news stations – the channels with the four-letter call signs) will be included in the package as well.

Providers offer basic cable at a very affordable monthly rate, and they make it easy for you to get your TV programming. The most common way to receive basic cable is to connect a coaxial cable from the wall outlet to your TV. Coaxial cables are the round cables with a little wire tongue sticking out of the ends – they screw into the round-shaped outlets in most modern homes. (Some older homes may not be wired for cable TV.) Once you’ve paid for your first month subscription with your cable provider, you should almost immediately receive basic cable to your television.

For homes that are not wired for cable or don’t get good cable reception, you can purchase small antennas that will pick up the basic cable channels. These antennas are available at local retailers like Walmart and Best Buy, starting at about $10. Of course, the rule goes if you pay a little more, you’ll get a little better reception. And again, you will receive stations and programming almost immediately after you pay for your first month with a provider.

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Jess Hutton loves to research, and she loves playing with apps, gadgets, and food. When she's not face-to-face with a screen, she and her husband take their two dogs out for hikes and ice cream.

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