Cable to the Rescue: Comcast Pitching 'Free' Video

  Broadcasters have been education consumers on the DTV transition until their transmitters have turned blue. But there are still issues of bad reception, missing coupons and people who just don’t want to mess with what the cable industry has
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Broadcasters have been educating consumers on the DTV transition until their transmitters have turned blue. But there are still issues of bad reception, missing coupons and people who just don’t want to mess with what the cable industry has ominously called “all that transition stuff” in its ads.

Now Comcast, is going after over-the-air viewers using one of the most beloved three-word expressions in the English language: free basic cable.

That’s free for a year if the consumer also buys some other Comcast product, such as phone service or Internet service. Each of those starts at $24.95 per month. The video service is also available on its own for $10 a month (for one year.)

Comcast has repeatedly promised investors that it saw a growth opportunity in over-the-air viewers who for one reason or another didn’t figure continued free TV was worth the trouble, or who suffered reduced reception with DTV. In July, a company exec said as many as 8 million viewers in Comcast’s footprint rely on over-the-air TV, and Comcast might pick up as many as 2 million of them.

The basic package has 20 to 30 channels, although on systems around the country, Comcast has steadily moved channels from analog to digital tiers to free up bandwidth.

Comcast has a Web page, www.comcast.com/dtvsite that guides prospective subscribers through the process.