Cable companies have been moving analog stations to digital tiers
for quite some time now, using the shifts to free up bandwidth and expand the amount of stations they carry. Separately, broadcast stations (you know, those ones you can pick up with an OTA antenna) are being forced to beam out signals in digital-only this coming February
. The two scenarios have nothing to do with one another, but it's evidently difficult for the average consumer to grasp that -- particularly when cable carriers are accelerating analog-to-digital transitions in order to "encourage" the purchase of digital tiers and corresponding set-top-boxes. To that end, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has agreed that all cable companies will freeze their own personal switchovers until the national broadcast cutover is complete, which will hopefully solve some of the confusion. We have a hard time believing outfits like Comcast
signed on without a fight, but either way, it looks like those digital tiers won't be growing out of control between December 31st and February 17th, 2009.