There’s an article in today’s Orlando Sentinel about Bright House cable yanking four HD channels (HGTV HD, TBS HD, The History Channel HD, and Food Network HD) away from CableCARD users who have had them since last October. It seems that Bright House never meant to give CableCARD users access to those channels, as they have plans to implement SDV and those channels will be part of the SDV selection. They just added five more HD channels, which are also destined for SDV, and as part of that update they also pulled the four channels which had been erroneously available to CableCARD customers since October. Of course, most consumers using CableCARD these days are doing so from a TiVo, and the article focuses on TiVo users, though this would impact anyone using a 3rd party CableCARD device. (But not a Bright House STB using CableCARD.)
Bright House is offering free rental of an HD cable DVR to affected users, though the article makes it sound like you need to turn in the CableCARDs to get the STB. Personally I’d want BOTH – I’d keep using the TiVo for all the linear channels, and only use their STB for the “SDV” channels. This is supposedly a temporary solution until the Tuning Resolver is available in 2Q08 to give TiVo (and other UDCP devices) access to SDV channels.
Now, I put SDV in quotes for a reason. I think Bright House is being disingenuous, if the article is correct. Based in the article it sounds like Bright House is preparing to deploy SDV and plans to move these channels to SDV, but they are not SDV currently! In other words, there is no reason all nine of these channels (the four that were taken away and the five new channels) could not be available to CableCARD users today. In fact, it seems they must have the bandwidth to support them without SDV, as they are right now, so if Bright House really wanted to do the right thing they could keep these nine channels as linear content until they deploy the Tuning Resolver. Once the Tuning Resolver is available, then they can migrate the channels to SDV and require users to get a Tuning Resolver to keep receiving them. At the very least they could do this with the four channels they accidentally made available, instead of taking them away.
So kudos to Bright House for making their HD DVR available for free until the Tuning Resolver is available, that’s actually pretty good customer service right there. But shame on them for yanking the channels in the first place and not making them available to CableCARD users in the interim before they enable SDV. Heck, put them on a special tier so people have to acknowledge that they will be migrating at some point if the concern is complaints about having the channels go unavailable to those who can’t/won’t use a Tuning Resolver at that time. Though, since they just cut off the four channels anyway, it doesn’t seem like that’s really a concern they have.