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Regional Cox Franchise Gives Away Service

Picture a cat getting ready to pounce on a mouse. There you have Cox Cable in Herndon, Va., ready and waiting for folks who lose over-the-air TV reception Feb. 17. The Northern Virginia cable carrier is offering limited basic cable for the low, low price of nothing, for 12 months. The catch is that subscribers have to sign up for digital phone service as well, but the carrot includes TBS, the Home Shopping Network and WETA-TV, the local PBS affiliate, as well as the Washington, D.C. market broadcast network stations.

The Cox maneuver is presented thusly: “With less than 40 days to the digital transition, connecting to Cox is the easiest way to prepare,” said Janet Barnard, senior vice president and general manager for Cox Northern Virginia. “With Cox basic cable service, there is no equipment to buy or complicated box installation. It’s easy to get started and now customers can connect for free!”

The promotion comes as the end of analog broadcasting is just weeks away, unless the new administration moves the end date. Test market shutdowns have also revealed a digital signal shortfall that could leave many over-the-air households with no TV reception. The $40 coupons good toward the devices that can convert analog televisions to digital have run out, and the same antenna that pulls in analog signals may not work for digital. If there was ever a time for cable and satellite TV providers to poach customers, it’s now.