(NBCNEWS) — If you have cable TV service, you probably have at least one set-top box in your house. On Monday, a federal rule change takes effect that could eventually force you to rent more cable boxes.
Right now, most cable systems don’t scramble the “basic tier” service which includes local broadcast stations, public, government and education channels, as well as some non-premium programming. Buy basic service and you can plug the cable into a digital set that has a QAM tuner and see these unencrypted channels without a set-top box.
Cable companies want to scramble everything coming through their wire, including basic service. They say this will allow them to reduce theft – prevent people from watching programs they didn’t pay for – and improve customer service.