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Is it Legal to Use an HD Antenna? Uncover the Truth

You’ve read that you can watch a lot of free channels using a TV antenna, and you’re really considering purchasing one. The problem is that you’re not sure how legal it is to get television for free.

Cable companies have convinced people that they must pay for their television viewing.

The good news I s that this is a lie.

You can legally watch television using an over the air antenna. You won’t receive every channel available, but there are numerous channels offering their content for free.

Are You Sure a Free HD TV Antenna is Legal?

Over-the-air television signals are all around us. You can’t see these signals, but they’re going through the air thanks to your local broadcast tower.

I’m not sure if you remember the time when there were antennas sticking out of the back of a television.This was once the only way to watch television.

Then there were flat antennas that you kind of attached to the wall and they were attached to your television.

Now, many televisions are cable ready, but they often don’t have an antenna built-in. Why? My guess is that the cable company doesn’t want the manufacturer to include an antenna to allow for free television.

Or maybe not enough people use antennas, so manufacturing companies don’t include them to save money.

Some people call this OTA television.

Local television stations use broadcast towers to allow you to watch:

  • Local news
  • Local sports

And some major television networks are available, too, including the CW and Fox. These stations are massive stations that are across the country.

What you may not know is that the only means to watch television was once with over-the-air broadcasts. This technology stopped being the only way to watch television in 1990 when General Instrument made the possibility of digital television signals a reality.

Sound and reception were enhanced using digital technology, so a lot of people ditched their antennas for cable boxes.

And people pay for their cable box every month, too. This is absurd to me because you need the box to use the company’s service. It’s just another way for the cable company to have a monopoly on the market.

Analog and digital channels existed alongside one another until 2009 when cable companies stopped offering analog stations. Now, the US only offers digital stations to their consumers. But these signals are still broadcast over the air and can be intercepted through an antenna.

But keep in mind that only some channels are available.

PBS, or the Public Broadcast Channel, is one channel, or a set of channels depending on location, that you’ll be able to intercept. Local news channels always have their content sent over the OTA signal, and this may be a law or a requirement.

There’s also less fuss when using the tower than dealing with cable companies.

How Do Channels Make Money?

So, you don’t have to pay for these free channels? Nope. The truth is that you pay the cable company because they’ll provide a constant signal and better overall quality. When you use an antenna, there’s always a chance of static or a bad signal that can ruin the viewing experience.

It’s not that bad once you get everything up and running though.

The initial position-switching and trying to figure out where the signal location is coming from is the hardest part of the process.

But back to our topic: how do channels make money?

Well, this depends.

Cable companies have to make deals with certain stations, and they provide a commission to the station to offer their content in their bundles. For example, ESPN is so popular that people expect it to be included in their subscription.

So, a large percentage of a cable bill will be provided to the owners of ESPN to offer their channel.

But when you watch commercials, the station is also paid. This is how the content providers are paid when you use a television antenna. Commercials will still be shown on your programming, and the cable company is paid to show these adverts.

This is why large audience programming pays actors and sports players better.

It’s a popularity game of sorts.

So, when you watch American Idol or another hit show, you’re adding to the viewer numbers. Advertisers will look at these larger viewing numbers, and they’ll pay more because they’re able to meet a much higher audience than if they promoted their products or services on a dying television show.

It’s a numbers game, and even when the content is sent over the local broadcast tower, the stations are paid by advertisers.

Can I Get Premium Channels for Free?

No. Premium channels make their money through subscriptions. These channels include:

  • HBO
  • Showtime

And any station of this manner is going to be a premium channel. Think of HBO, which offers original content as a premium channel. This channel offers Game of Thrones, one of the most popular television shows in history.

While you watch these channels, take note that they’re not showing commercials.

Yes, they will have a commercial for their own content, but they don’t promote content from other companies. You won’t find a commercial for Nike in the middle of your Game of Thrones marathon.

If you see that a channel you enjoy doesn’t show commercials, it won’t be part of the free channels you’ll receive through a TV antenna.

But there are plenty of other channels you won’t receive, too.

Most people will receive between 12 and 40 channels for free. This is a decent amount of free content, and you’ll be able to watch your local channels, too.

Yes, your HD antenna is absolutely, 100% legal. There are no guarantees that the best indoor tv antenna will receive a specific number of channels, but the channels available will be free. This is something to remember, and you can always go and check to see if your local broadcast tower offers your favorite television content.

There are numerous sites online that list which channels are offered based on your zip code.

March 15, 2017 ,

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Jack here. I’m the admin behind Best HD Antenna – a site for hardcore cord cutters. I’ve been struggling to find a way to help friends and family cut the cord