Consumer Reports Criticizes Cablevision DTV Transition Ad Pushing Cable TV

Consumer Reports criticized Cablevision's misleading doomsday message. In the commercial, an actor says, "On June 12 2009, broadcast TV signals go digital, and older TVs like this one won't work anymore. Don't let that happen to you. Even if you've resisted the move to cable in the past, please call. And make sure that nothing interrupts your favorite TV shows."

Consumer Reports says, "The ad doesn't mention that all most people really need to continue watching an older TV after the digital TV transition is a proper antenna and easy-to-install DTV converter box. Boxes are available for as little as nothing to as much as $40, after applying a free $40 coupon from the federal government."

Consumer Reports criticizes the Cablevision "special offer" in this part of the commercial: "Time is running out. If you rely on a TV antenna or an apartment building antenna to get your channels, Cablevision has a special offer for you." Consumer Reports called Cablevision and asked about the special offer and was told by a Cablevision rep that the offer is for a $53-a-month family package that increases to $73-a-month after a year.

Consumer Reports eventually got Cablevision to admit a basic package was available for $17 a month plus a $34 installation fee. Asked about converter boxes, "the rep warned us that people are having 'a lot of problems with it,'" CR said.

That wasn't the end of the Consumer Reports reporter's issues with Cablevision: "Finally, after we hemmed and hawed, he left to 'go speak to a supervisor' and came back with an offer for a $20-a-month expanded basic service that climbs to $33 after a year. But he said couldn't guarantee its availability unless we ordered right then."

Consumer Reports writer Anthony Giorgianni concludes, "You have to wonder why Cablevision wouldn't use its advertising and customer service representatives to educate viewers honestly about their choices, even the low-cost ones—like installing a converter box."

Read all of RF Reporthere.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.