CHAMPAIGN – Some subscribers to Comcast's "standard" cable service lost access to several channels Tuesday as a result of not having digital set-top boxes and digital adapters.
The company moved 15 analog channels to the digital lineup Tuesday to make way for more high-definition programming. In another two weeks, Comcast will move 28 more channels to digital.
Comcast warned "standard" customers last February that the change was coming and that they would need to get digital set-top boxes and adapters if they wanted to continue to receive the channels.
Comcast spokeswoman Angie Amores said the company did not get a last-minute rush of customers requesting adapters.
"We notified folks a long time ago this was going to take place," she said, adding that reminder letters and e-mails were sent in the intervening months.
The changes don't affect customers who already subscribe to digital cable, unless they have secondary TVs that aren't properly equipped. Also largely unaffected are basic cable subscribers who receive only channels 2 through 20.
Instead, they affect "standard" customers who get not only the basic channels but also the "expanded basic" tier – channels 23 through 70.
On Tuesday, Comcast digitized AMC, Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, E!, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, Lifetime, MSNBC, Oxygen, TLC, TNT, Travel, tru TV and the Weather Channel. Customers who didn't have digital equipment either got no picture on those channels Tuesday, or they had a message with Comcast's phone number, Amores said.
On Wednesday, the company is launching 17 new high-definition channels and two new 3-D channels – ESPN 3-D and Events 3-D.
On Dec. 14, Comcast plans to digitize 28 more channels from the expanded basic lineup. Shortly after that, the company will add 41 new high-definition channels.
To get high-definition programming, customers must have a high-definition TV, an HD-enabled digital set-top box from Comcast and the proper Comcast service level.
To see 3-D programming, customers must have a 3-D TV, 3-D glasses from the TV set manufacturer, Comcast 3-D authorization and a digital service tier.
Customers who want to continue viewing analog channels once they're digitized will need digital equipment. Comcast will provide equipment for up to three TVs at no additional cost, including one digital set-top box and two digital adapters.
Those who haven't gotten digital equipment can stop by the Comcast service center in Urbana, 303 E. Fairlawn Drive, call the company at 877-634-4434 or visit online.
"Standard" customers who don't get digital equipment and don't upgrade to digital service will end up becoming basic cable customers and will be charged a lower rate, Amores said.
The changes affect Comcast communities in and around the Champaign-Urbana and Danville areas.