Gee, it's been two months; it must be time for more channel rearranging from Time Warner Cable in Austin. This time around, TWC is moving no fewer than seven channels to digital-only, which, as has been stated before, means that they can only be viewed on a TV equipped with one of Time Warner's spiffy set-top boxes or with a CableCARD-equipped device. (Set-top boxes and CableCARD-equipped devices were covered in my last Time Warner update. And yes, my last update mentioned the removal of KADF-LP, channel 14; that apparently is still going to happen, eventually.)
Honestly, I can't imagine too many people in the greater Austin area caring a great deal about most of the channels that Time Warner is moving this time, as they consist of six access channels (10, 11, 16, 17, 19, and 22) and Channel 6, the city channel. (Hey Snowed, didn't you report that 19 was being moved a year and a half ago? Yes, I did. And it was gone for a while, but for some reason it reappeared on my basic cable. Go ask Time Warner. And don't try the "legal notices" link in the old post; it's no longer good.)
If anything, I'd bet the most missed out of those seven will be Channel 6, as Austin has experienced the occasional heated discussion in a city council meeting. But--and be honest--will you miss most of the programs that air on the other access channels, specifically 10, 11, and 16? (The other three deal with organziations such as ACC, Travis County, and AISD, but 10, 11, and 16 are true public access channels.) I just can't picture anyone saying, "Gee, I sure do miss seeing Perry Logan and his seizure-inducing 1980s-era video effects coupled with incoherent rantings with the gain turned up way too high!" (Yes, it's a real access show in Austin. No, I'm not giving him a link.)
The only thing I'd take from this development is the inevitability that eventually, all channels on Time Warner Cable will be digital only, if they're taking the trouble to change the access channels.. Multiple commenters have pointed out to me that transmitting channels digitally is a lot cheaper, and I certainly won't argue that point. Plus, cable systems are, last I heard, only required to downconvert broadcast channels until 2012, at which point I totally expect to see my basic cable package discontinued. (Sure, I'll bet Time Warner offers some discount at that point for people who will be forced to upgrade, but I'll also bet that the price given for whatever package they push during that promotion will not include the $8 a month for the converter box. Of course, by then it'll probably be $10 anyway.)
So, maybe in 2012, after I lose my basic cable, I'll catch up on my reading list. Or maybe I'll do something else. Whatever it is, I'm fairly sure it won't involve upgrading any Time Warner services.
Update: Kevin writes: "The channels you mention are remaining on the basic tier, just being switched to digital only. You do not have to have a Time Warner set top box or CableCard to receive them, nor do you have to subscribe to the digital cable package. All you need is a TV equipped with a digital tuner or digital converter, the same equipment required to pick up digital broadcast channels with an antenna."
And Kevin is right, and I misread this originally. Oops.
With that said, these moves by Time Warner still bode ill for subscribers like me who, due to budgetary concerns, still have a standard definition television, no set-top box (because cable is supposed to convert channels at least until 2012, as I understand it), and basic cable. Maybe I'll just end up with the broadcast channels and nothing else. And when that happens, the set-top box will pay for itself after just a few months of no cable television.