Don't forget cable had to be brought kicking and screaming into this. I remember being charged $2.11 every month for a remote for my cable box, in college. When I got a universal remote and returned their remote to the office, they actually rolled a truck to my house to trade out my "remote ready" cable box with a "remote disabled" cable box. Grrrrr. I still bristle at that experience.
FTA Michael said:Because once upon a time, the feds decided to force cable systems to play nice with "cable-ready" televisions. Thus, they're effectively required to provide their most basic channels in an analog package that can plugged directly into almost any reasonably modern television. This way, if you've got six TVs, you don't need six cable boxes to get those analog-delivered channels. The decoupled "digital-cable-ready" set is supposed to be a modernization of that approach.
Satellite dishes have always required some form of converter between the dish and the TV, and when they started, they had very little market share. (It's still pretty small relative to cable.) Those are some reasons why you never saw "satellite-ready" sets at the Wal-Mart.