I do not know if this is the case with certainty, but I read that in the US the FCC ruled cable companies have to provide at least the local channels to all cable consumers after the High Definition shift, however the cable companies have kept this a secret.

So if true it means that basic cable in the US should be free...if you are a "cable consumer"?

Is this the case with Canada and the CRTC I wonder? Shaw Cable supplies HDTV but that's about all I know at this point.