SOMERVILLE (CBS) – The FCC will soon let cable operators scramble the signals of local TV stations that you now get through basic cable. If you don’t have a cable box, you may not be able to watch unless you’re willing to open your wallet.

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky owns many TVs but not all of them have an HD cable box.

He says, “All it has is the cable wire going straight into it from the wall, and I get HD TV on the over the air channels.”

In his kitchen, and in his office, Dworsky is able to watch local cable channels in high definition without a box, but that may soon be changing.

“Channels can now be scrambled and that means your TV can’t unscramble them without a box,” says Dworsky.

Beginning December 10th, cable providers will have the right to scramble those signals. If they do, you would need to rent a box to get the channels. An HD signal would require a more expensive box.

“I don’t want to have to rent a box if I don’t have to and I want to be able to watch HD TV that’s why I bought an HD television set,” says Dworsky. “If you give me one of those cheapie boxes, that’s not gonna let me see the programs in HD.”

Cable providers would be required to provide two free boxes to customers with basic service for two years, one year for higher tier customers.

This new rule primarily affects people with secondary TVs in places like offices, dens and kitchens and that could be a lot of people. According to Nielsen, 66 million people have three or more televisions in their house.

Cable providers are not required to scramble the signals, but starting on Monday, they will have the right.

WBZ reached out to Comcast and a company spokesman says there are no announcements to share right now and says if there is a change, they’ll tell customers well in advance.

So enjoy those box-less cable signals while you can, a scramble may be in your future.

Comments (3)
  1. Ted Lehman says:

    What the hell? Apparently a local cable company here in Phoenix, Arizona has scrambled all my PBS stations that I once got for free, beginning last Monday…right on schedule… according to this website. In an attempt to make people pay for a box? How could the FCC allow the cable companies to do this? PBS is paid for by public support. What about my contributions? PBS had just made commercials explaining that they were going to dedicate one of their channels for a childrens cartoon network in order to help poor/working families with children some much needed help! Now…GONE! Did the FCC get paid off to the attrocious thing? My local cable company could have taken any of my 20 religious and spanish channels…but noooo…. PBS!! This is just hurting the poorest of poor!! Shame on you FCC!!

  2. Frank Znidarsic says:

    I don’t like the scrambling and the extra boxes. I have enough remotes now. My 94 year old mother cant work the various remotes as they are. I live in a deep valley and believed that I could not receive UHF HD reception. I aimed an amplified directional antenna, vertically polarized, at a large tower WJAC west of me. I was suprized that I picked up three reflected channels with four subcarriers each as a reflections from transmitters 30 miles away; WTAJ, WWCP, WATM, and KDKA. These signals are strong but go in and out during high wind. Apparently the tower moves during these periods. That’s good enough for me as I dont watch tv much. I was surpirzed as I was not able to pick up relfected UHF signals with the older analog system without ghosts

    I cant wait to cut the cord.

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