Mediacom has made lemonade out of lemons by offering up free service to its basic tier of cable service until the June 12 deadline for the transition to all-digital signals goes into affect.

With Congress moving the digital transition deadline back last week from Feb. 17 to June 12, Mediacom decided to alleviate any customer confusion, as well as possibly lasso new subscribers, with its offer of the free service.

With the offer, over-the-air viewers in Mediacom’s footprint can view cable programming without having to wait on a coupon from the federal government to buy a converter box that converts digital signals back to analog signals.

"This eliminates uncertainties for people who are on the backlogged waiting lists for government coupons," said Cari Fenzel, Mediacom’s regional vice president. "In addition, it gives a group of consumers a rare opportunity to ‘test drive’ cable television service without any long-term obligation or costs. Mediacom’s free service through June 12 includes installation, and there’s no extra equipment to purchase or lease."

As a result of the Congressional action that President Obama is expected to sign, the long-planned digital transition will change from a single cut-off date into a prolonged transition that will take place between Feb. 17 and June 12. During those four months, Fenzel explained, analog television signals will gradually disappear from the marketplace as local stations transition to all-digital broadcasts.

Mediacom’s free service applies to the broadcast basic, or "limited," channel lineup, which gives households up to 20 channels that include all local broadcast stations, public television stations and several other channels. Mediacom, the nation’s eighth-largest cable operator, has set up a toll-free phone number to facilitate the ordering process.

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