How To Get Local Channels In HD
If you have analog cable and own a HDTV with QAM tuner then you can unlock the HD channels by running the auto-program function on your TV as if you were configuring an antenna.
This may not work for everyone. I tried it in my area with Time Warner and it didn't work but that doesn't mean it won't work for you. There are success stories.
Background - Why This Is Possible
The reason is because cable operators are required to offer the local channels for free to their customers. I figure they aren't encrypting the local channels because distributing broadcast TV is already a costly deal for them, broadcasters are distributing the digital HD signal, and adding an encryption would cost even more.
This is probably a short term benefit because cable operators will at some point likely remove the analog feed and require all subscribers to use a CableCARD or set-top box.
Unfortunately, cable-only HD channels, like ESPN HD, are likely encrypted so this typically only applies to broadcast TV.