I received a mailing (see poorly taken iPhone photo) from Comcast a few days ago and I thought it was worth talking about from a libertarian perspective.
I’m all for companies taking advantage of the digital changeover to make a little extra scratch, so long as they’re honest in doing so. This mailer never explicitly lies, but it’s not exactly forthcoming about what the digital conversion really means and it certainly didn’t mention the possibility of buying a converter box to continue getting broadcast TV for free.
Instead, the octagenarians who occupy most of the other units in my building were met with this sort of language:
If you use an analog TV with an antenna and did not get the right equipment to receive a digital signal, you lost those broadcast channels after that date.
Q: How do I get my signal back?
A: There are several options, but the easy answer is to call Comcast…
First, I think that’s factually innacurate. It’s easier to drive 30 miles to a neighboring city to buy a converter box than to setup and then play the waiting game for the Comcast guy, but I guess the people who didn’t catch on about the conversion have nothing but time. My second beef is that the first sentence, the one about how you “lost those broadcast channels” seems to be awkwardly worded on purpose. It seems to be written in a way that’s intentially confusing, as thought Comcast were trying to obfuscate the fact that those TV signals are still out there—they’re not really “lost”—and you just need to spend $40, once.
Of course Comcast is in the business of selling people cable, so flauting the advantages of an over-the-air converter box isn’t in their interest. I don’t feel like anything in this mailing was fraudulent or illegal, but it could be seen as trying to lead people to believe that cable was maybe, just perhaps, the only way to get their broadcast TV back.