How Does The Cable Company Get Local Channels?


Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
View attachment 3133 If you're a cable TV customer, you've probably wondered where your cable company gets programming for your local TV channels. Okay, probably not. But now I'm asking you to think about it for a moment. Since your cable company's slogan probably has something to do with the "Future" and "Awesome", you probably assume it's something awesomely futuristic, like "Lasers" and "Fiber". It must be pure and direct from the source, since your cable company is always telling you how much better their HD is than anything else. I mean, why else would you pay for TV? It's not like you can get HDTV for free!

Well lets take a little walk down to our local cable company's office and have a look at how it's done, okay? Here's the local office for Comcast in Logan, Utah.
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Nothing "futuristically awesome" here. Lets take a closer look.
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Hold on, I think I see something awesome at the upper right... what's that thing? An antenna for UHF TV? Yes! It's a commercial version of a common type of consumer antenna, like the Antennacraft MXU59 - an antenna you can buy at your local Radio Shack or on Amazon. It's pointed South towards our local translators. A translator is a low power transmitter that rebroadcasts TV signals over our mountains. In our case the translators are owned and operated by the county - at taxpayers expense. So Comcast is using an old technology to capture signals from taxpayer funded transmitters to sell at a profit to people who already paid taxes to have those signals broadcast directly to their home. AWESOME!

With this one antenna, Comcast captures programming for ABC4, NBC5, CBS2, Fox13, CW30, PBS7, KJZZ14, and BYU11. If I look at this picture below, you can see another antenna pointed West.
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This is a VHF antenna for our local LP station, KUTA channel 8. What you can't see is another UHF antenna lower on the mast that gets channel 16, ION TV, because the translator towers to our south do not transmit the ION channels.

Did I mention that Comcast encrypts all channels, including these free local channels? And they charge you monthly for a cable box for each TV to decode these free channels? And they also strip out most subchannels like Movies!, MeTV, Antenna TV, etc? In my area, there's over 35 channels free with an antenna, but Comcast only carries about 15.

So there you have it. Your cable company gets your local TV channels the old fashioned way - like your grandpa did, for free with an antenna. Then they charge you to watch them on each and every TV. But you can get the same picture quality or better on your local channels with an antenna of your own, and never pay another cable bill again.