FCC eyes digital TV channel changes

The Federal Communications Commission had a long, busy day Tuesday, approving several items with major wireless implications, including the Verizon acquisition of Alltel, the Sprint-Clearwire joint venture and the white spaces usage plan. In the shadow of those decision was another move worth noting: The FCC said it will investigate the increasingly common practice of Verizon Communications and cable TV operators moving analog video channels into more expensive digital service tiers as the companies make room for more high-definition channels.

"I'm certainly concerned with the increasing cable prices that consumers are facing," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Associated Press. "They are getting less and being charged the same or more." The channel switching might require customers who had less expensive service packages to sign up for more expensive ones. The FCC also apparently is concerned that some service providers are confusing consumers, leading them to think the channel moves have something to do with the upcoming February 2009 digital TV transition

The FCC has notified several companies of its investigation, including Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Bright House Networks, Suddenlink Communications, Bend Cable Communications, GCI Company, Harron Entertainment, a unit of Harron Communications, RCN Corp. and Verizon.

For more:
- The Associated press has this report

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