Television signals are still available over the air without cost using an antenna. All of the local network stations are available, and there is also additional programming, including high-definition channels and special service channels such as full time weather and news. To receive these channels a digital receiver is needed. Many new television sets include this type of tuner, but not all do at this time. These new tuners are designated "ATSC." If you still have an older model TV, you can purchase a digital converter box at your local electronics store.
Cable Television -- So why pay an additional amount for television? The original purpose for wired or cable television was to improve reception. Once cable television was started, another purpose came into play, that of additional programming services not available over the air. Whether or not that programming service includes advertisements, the cable company pays the program provider a fee for the programs and this is part of the cost of providing cable TV service. More recently, having a physical connection to the home has provided a way to provide other services, such as internet connections. Because cable TV uses the public right to connect to properties, for example crossing under or over streets, and since cable television is not considered a utility like electric service, cable television providers must obtain a franchise from local or regional authorities to use the public right of way for this purpose.
The local telephone company -- AT&T U-verse is in West Hollywood -- Both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of building a wired television service. AT&T calls thier service U-verse, and Verizon calls thiers FiOS. AT&T has obtained a franchise from the state to use the public right of way for this service. They will be using a different delivery technology for this, but the result should be similar to cable service for the end user.
Satellite television services, such as DirecTV and DISH network, provide both improved reception and additional programming, but because there is no physical connection to the home, do not, by themselves, provide internet or phone service. (Note that to get reception of local channels, these need to be ordered separately as part of the service.) And, because satellite services do not use physical connections, they do not use the public right of way, and so do not need any permit or franchise from local or state authorities to operate. Satellite services do require mounting a small satellite antenna or "dish" in such a location that the antenna has an unobstructed sightline to the satellite. This can be a problem for potential users in buildings where they face in the wrong direction. The City does not restrict use of satellite antennas, though building owners and condominium homeowner associations may restrict them, but only in common areas. As with cable TV, the satellite television services pay fees to program providers for the programming they sell to the end user.