Why won't HBO just let me sign up for HBO?

That’s still a decision by the cable company to not put HBO in the basic channels, and not a true technical limitation. And when’s the last time you knew of a cable company that doesn’t provide the cable box for free?

I definitely have never heard of a company that required you to get phone and internet to get a digital cable box.

And I agree about these stupid setups where you can’t get the show online if you don’t have cable. I hope they realize that all that means is that people will just watch the show online anyways–the Dope is the only place I’ve seen anyone have any moral qualms about watching the shows on one of the various sites–they just wouldn’t upload them themselves.

Cable companies operate very local systems, and are regulated by a vast number of local authorities. So it’s probably some locality in New Jersey that LurkerinNJ is referring to.

I didn’t say they would charge for a new box. And while it’s not a technological limitation, they are bringing sailinqmind a new digital box for HBO precisely because that channel isn’t available on her basic cable box.

But otherwise, yeah, cable companies can provide you with a premium channel without ordering extra services. I can call Comcast right now and ask for HBO to be added to my account for $15 and have them switch it on.

Let me mention in passing that the vast majority of US communities are supplied with cable TVby a single vendor (Time Warner, Coix, eetcc.) under a franchise agreement between that vendor and the city, county, or town.

For a franchisee to attempt to sell you a bundled package of services is not illegal, it’s simply gooid marketing practice. This can include various tiers of cable service – few people would willingly buy QVC, but a deal where you can only get Animal Planet as part of a package that also includes History channel and QVC is legal. For them to refuse service unless you buy Internet and cell phone service from them, however, is usually a violation of the franchise agreement. If sufficiently tonewalled by the rep. pushing the package, a timely threat to ak your county rep. to call for a review of their franchise makes an excellent nuclear option for the customer.

Uh-uh. I have Time Warner basic cable (and have had it for over 25 years). There have been ‘free preview’ weeks several times over the years for HBO, I have received HBO that way several times, always on channel 15, clear as a bell for that limited time. That’s what was so annoying, they can, and have, put on and taken off HBO in the past by doing whatever it is they do - on their end. NOW they say I need a digital box to get HBO and now I have to hang around the house next week for a worker to show up and plug it in. Not that I mind, but it seems more complicated than it has to be.

Move to Québec - Videotron offers 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 à la carte channel packages..They also have additional individual channels for $2.03/mo, additional 5 channels for $6.09/mo etc. and then you have the bundled extraslike TMN/HBO and the Sports packages, etc.

I think they are the only provider to do this (though I haven’t actually looked at others!), and it might be in part the result of having to serve two relatively large language bases - francophones and anglophones want different channels, so that results in a little more choice.

It’s awesome (though I think prices are higher here than in the USA).

Are you sure that all they need to do is plug in the box? When I’ve needed just a new box, I’ve always been able to pick it up from a Time Warner customer service location. The only time they had to actually come to my house was when the service switched to digital - something about 4 boxes would work on the same line with the old service, but digital could only have two boxes on one line.

I live in Brooklyn. My boyfriend lives in NJ. We both do it.

I have a single channel upgrade, sometimes two. During True Blood season, I get HBO. During Dexter season, I get Showtime. Sometimes I opt for for both if there is a Boardwalk Empire overlap. My boyfriend varies between single channel upgrade and the occasional package deal.

You don’t need to buy a package deal or bundle to get a premium channel. All you need is basic cable, the box and you can add on HBO or any other premium movie channel your cable company offers. It has been this way for as long as I can remember.

HBO isn’t a basic channel, though, that’s the issue. It’s a premium one that you have to pay extra for. That has nothing to do with the cable company itself, but with HBO’s policies. I’ve never known anyone that HBO included with basic cable – it was always extra, unless you have digital cable, like we do downstairs.

I can just add an individual premium channel , too. But that doesn’t mean every cable company works the same way. I have friends in Long Island- the last time we discussed cable, ( which was a long time ago ), they had certain packages - one package included HBO, another included Showtime and to get HBO and Showtime you had to buy both packages. It worked much like my non-premium service works now - if I have Basic Service, I can’t just add Bravo, I have to upgrade to a package that includes Bravo

An actual cite that this is a standard rule for all cable companies would still be nice, despite your memories of it always being that way.

Yep, and up to 40 percent of your cable bill is going solely to ESPN, so anyone who isn’t watching ESPN is getting majorly screwed.

Both you and BigT may be confusing “basic cable.” Basic is what channels the cable company chooses to include. It is not limited to channels 1-99, although you might need a converter box to receive higher numbers.

In my area, the local Public/Education/Government neighborhood is 980-999, and part of basic cable. If you have an old TV, you need a converter box. If you have a new TV, you don’t, but the channel numbers are all wonky.

Channels 1-99 are analog only (AFAIK in hybrid systems), but that is not synonymous with “basic cable.”

What you’ve experienced is not legally required for everyone in all areas, here the FCC specifically mentions channels not available separately:

“Cable programming service includes all program channels on the cable system that are not included in basic service, but are not separately offered as per-channel or per-program services. Pursuant to a 1996 federal law, the rates charged for cable programming services tiers provided after March 31, 1999 are not regulated. There may be one or more tiers of cable programming service.”

I guess I’m going then by my own experience – in my particular area, the movie channels like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc, were all extra. It is include with digital cable.

I wasn’t confused so much as using the terms the way the person I was responding to did. I know that HBO is a premium channel and will not be on the lowest tier of channels. I was saying there’s no inherent reason for HBO not to be offered as an analog channel.

But I do wonder if I’m wrong–maybe now that there’s a digital system, they no longer find scrambling the premium channels sufficient. I haven’t had cable since the analog days.

A lot had changed. Scrambling isn’t needed for digital since each subscriber’s view can be customized.

I understand that all cable companies are converting to all-digital soon; some already have, I think. Charter once claimed that 2010 was the cutoff date in my area, but they keep postponing it 6 months at a time. I think it’s because there are still a lot of little old ladies with DuMonts who don’t want to get a new TV or pay monthly for a converter box, and Charter doesn’t want to lose customers.

There’s no reason why HBO can’t be offered on any channel number the provider wants, whether 47 or 547, except for the scrambling situation described above. 15 years ago, pre-digital, HBO and Showtime were on my TV somewhere in the under-99 group. A “premium” channel doesn’t have to be any particular channel number, but usually is in the above-100 group now.

Also, where the channel appears on the dial has no bearing on the cost.

I only say these things as there often are a lot of assumptions people make, for good reasons, but they aren’t always valid assumptions.

Their restaurant, their amusement park, their rules. If they tell you you have to order seven portions of the chicken and ride the whirly-gig four times if you want to have coffee after dinner, it might seem dumb from your perspective because it’s not what you want, but they’ve decided that’s how they want to sell their services. Presumably because that’s what makes them the most money. You can always turn them down.

Actually, no. (Despite what they tell you.)
They are using the public airwaves, or the public right-of-way to deliver their services. That is why they are subject to public regulation. Now if only the regulators were more responsive to the public rather than the industry, we would already be able to order just the individual channels we want.

Yep. Sports programming in general is a tremendous money pit for TV providers and customers. The beast always wants more.

I’d like to see the major TV providers completely separate sports channels out from the other packages, and make only the people who watch them bear the brunt of the cost. A lot fewer people would have those channels, rather than pay the higher prices.

It won’t happen, though.