Cable / Uverse / Satellite
When cable providers switched away from self-contained decoding boxes to "digital" boxes, it became clear that all "encrypted" channels selected would be routed through the company computers for permission to decode (watch) that channel. This also meant that all choices could be monitored and a record kept. Currently, all all cable channels are encrypted.
Uverse follows the cable industry as the receiver (or DVR) communicates for permission to activate a channel.
Satellite receivers (and DVR's) that are not connected to a phone line only decode the subscribed channels. Special purchases require a connection to a phone line (or LAN / Internet). Special purchases can also be called-in with "permission" sent by satellite signal.
What baffles me is how the cable companies and Uverse are allowed to circumvent the Federal Wiretap Laws that have been in effect since 1920's.
My solution is simple. Do not subscribe to a service that can spy on you.