Cable subscribers might see a sneaky new fee this holiday season. The channels you watch for free on your TV could be gone very soon.
Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and new, little-noticed rules they adopted in October, the local channels you normally get by just plugging in a cable cord, could be taken away at anytime.
Cable operators are now allowed to scramble the signal of local, basic cable channels on HD TVs. And that means, you might have to buy a cable box for every TV in your house in order to watch them.
But your cable provider can also choose not to scramble your local stations. The new rule is optional.
But, if they do, your choices aren't great. According to Consumer World , you can either rent a cable box for about $10 a month, buy one (though you would still have to rent a cable card as well), or go back to using rabbit ears.
And consumer advocates don't think any of those are a good option for you.
There is one upside, though. The FCC required cable companies to give you up to two free cable boxes to help you with the transition.
But that's only temporary and most of us are used to getting local, basic cable channels for free.