How to Get Digital Cable Channels Without a Converter

By Maya Austen

Since the June 12, 2009, transition to digital television, U.S. TV broadcasters are permitted to broadcast only digital TV signals, whereas, before the transition, analog TV signals were the standard. TV broadcasters are not the only ones affected by the digital switch. This change affects you, the TV viewer, as well. Now, if you're using an analog TV set, to get free over-the-air local TV channels you need a digital converter box. If you don't want to use a converter box, you need to invest in a digital TV or subscribe to a cable or satellite service to receive digital cable channels.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital TV
  • Cable/satellite subscription
  • 75 Ohm coaxial cable (optional)

Subscribe to a Cable or Satellite Service

Step 1

Review the service packages offered by the cable and satellite providers that service your area. Pick out a package that offers the digital cable channels you want, for the fee you're willing to spend. Remember to look at the provider's fine print, as it pertains to contract agreements, late fee charges and repair service charges. Factor these considerations into your decision when deciding on which provider you want to choose.

Step 2

Contact the cable or satellite service provider's customer service department to set up an account with them. The provider's customer service representative will walk you through the process.

Step 3

Call your old cable or satellite service provider to cancel your account with them (if applicable).

Connect Cable or Satellite Signal Directly to TV

Step 1

Connect the main coaxial cable coming from the wall (the coaxial cable, that was installed by your cable or satellite provider's technician, carries the main cable TV signal) into the "RF In" port on the back of the TV set. This port is often labeled, "Antenna In."

Step 2

Turn on the TV.

Step 3

Aim the TV's remote control at the TV and press the "Menu" button. Use the remote's arrow buttons to locate the "Channel Setup" menu.

Step 4

Execute a "CATV" scan.

Connect Cable or Satellite Signal to TV Using a Receiver

Step 1

Connect the main coaxial cable coming from the wall to the "RF In" port, often labeled "Cable In" or "Satellite In," on the back of the receiver.

Step 2

Use a coaxial cable to connect the receiver's "RF Out" port to the "RF In" port on the back of the TV.

Step 3

Turn on the TV and set it to channel 3.

Tips & Warnings

  • The only way to get digital "cable" channels is to subscribe to a cable or satellite service. Cable TV channels are pay-TV channels. When you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, it does not matter whether the TV you're using is analog or digital, as long as you're using the cable box or satellite receiver supplied by your cable or satellite provider. However, to connect the cable or satellite service directly to the TV, without using the provider's receiver, you do need to have a digital TV. This is also the case if you're only looking to receive free over-the-air local TV channels, and you don't want to use a digital converter box. Under this scenario as well, you must have a digital TV. Digital TVs are equipped with internal digital tuners (also referred to as "ATSC" tuners). All new model TVs sold in the U.S. are equipped with internal digital tuners.