Cablevision to stop selling analog TV by year-end

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp said on Thursday it will stop selling analog television packages by the end of 2009 as it moves to become an all-digital service.

The company said just five percent of its 3.1 million video customers currently receive its analog expanded basic package and these customers will continue to receive the limited service without any required action.

But the cable company, which has the highest digital service penetration of any major U.S. cable operator, will no longer market analog TV packages to customers.

A company spokesman pointed out that Cablevision is already going all-digital in some parts of New York City including parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn.

One advantage of going all-digital for cable companies is that it frees up capacity on an operator’s system. One analog TV channel takes up the capacity for up to eight to ten digital channels. Most operators deliver an analog simulcast alongside the digital signals.

Cablevision, like other U.S. cable operators, has traditionally delivered analog TV signals and gradually converted its customers to digital packages since the introduction of broadcast digital signals in the U.S.

Satellite TV providers like DirecTV Group and DISH Network Corp as well as newcomers like Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc only deliver digital video signals.

With more customers expecting to watch high definition programing on flat-screen TVs many customers have already converted to digital TV.

The migration of cable subscribers to digital comes ahead of a U.S. government mandated switch-off of free, over-the-air, analog signals on June 12.

Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Tim Dobbyn