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Cutting the cord: How to watch TV for free


Hefty bills are prompting many people to drop their cable and satellite services.

Instead, they’re tuning in with television antennas for free over-the-air shows.

Guy Harnett installs antennas for his customers who are tired of paying for dozens of cable channels they never watch.

Harnett said, “People want antennas to reduce their cable bills, reduce their satellite bills.”

The type of antenna Harnett installs goes on your roof and offers the best reception.

However, Consumer Reports says indoor antennas are cheaper and easier to install.

Claudio Ciacci, from Consumer Reports, said, “What you can get from these antennas are the local broadcast channels like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC. But what you won’t get from these are the major cable channels.”

Some antennas have a classic rabbit ears look, while others are super-sleek with flat designs so you can attach it to a window or hide it behind your television.

Consumer Reports enlisted a dozen staffers who live in the New York area to test the antennas at their homes.

Ciacci said, “Four of our testers got no signal at all. They were able to pick up no channels. Some were able to pick up three or four channels, while others got up to 20 channels because of the varying signal strength in their area.”

Experts say where you live and where you put the antenna play a role in what you get.

Ciacci said, “We had our testers use the antenna in three locations in their home. Two locations were right near their TV set. And then we tried a third position by the window because the window provides the most unobstructed access to the broadcast towers.”

Consumer Reports says the $35 RadioShack 15-254 did well in many homes and has a 30 day return policy.

Even if you have cable or satellite, Consumer Reports says you might want to consider getting an antenna.

If your service goes out in a big storm, you can still get local television reception until your regular service is restored.