Growing number of TV users switching from cable, satellite services to antenna

Standard antenna installation cost about $250

PINECREST, Fla. - The rise of digital television has prompted a growing number of TV users to drop their expensive cable and satellite services for the free channels they can get over the air.

This trend is bringing back a once familiar site in most South Florida neighborhoods, the TV antenna.

While Barry Katz was watching storm coverage on Local 10 News last week, the tropics never looked so good to him. For the first time in years Katz is watching his television for free.

"I had basic cable for years and that was enough for me," Katz told Local 10's Roger Lohse.

Katz turned in his cable box and the monthly bill that came with it, but still gets many of his favorite stations with his new antenna, which is posted about 15 feet above his home.

"I was most surprised about the perfect picture I was getting, and also some of the channels that I didn't get before that I'm getting now," Katz said.

Before cable and satellite TV, homeowners needed an antenna to watch television. Neighborhood skylines were crowded with them.

Now it seems the metal receptors are making a comeback.

"Of course with the economic condition now, people are interested in getting more bang for your buck," said Sandy Ross, owner of an antenna installation company, Antenna Systems.

The business he started 40 years ago has evolved. For past two decades he's been doing mostly cable and satellite installations. But he said his business has now come full circle because the demand for free TV is back.

"For one reason or another people got unhappy with selection on cable or satellite and the price every month was element," Ross said.

Standard installation for an antenna runs about $250, but considering what you might be paying for cable or satellite every month, it's a pretty good deal.

"It's a fraction of what it would be for cable because the antenna can last for ten years, so you figure the dollars per month, it's very, very little," Ross said.

Of course you'll have to give up ESPN, Discovery and those other popular cable channels. There's no HBO either, but you do get all the major networks and an impressive lineup of local programming.

Katz has about 60 channels to choose from, most of them are in high definition, but even more important he said, all of them are free.

Today's TV antennas are built on retractable poles so they can easily be brought down in the event of tropical storm or hurricane.

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