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Will the Nation's Switch to Digital TV Be Postponed?

Will the Nation's Switch to Digital TV Be Postponed?

The Consumers Union wants Congress to delay the nation's transition to digital television because it believes the program to help American's transition has been underfunded and poorly implemented. It was announced earlier this week that the $1.3 billion dollar program to offset the cost of buying converter boxes is all tapped out.

All full-power television stations in the US are required to stop using the old method of transmitting TV signals, known as analog, and start broadcasting exclusively in a digital format on Feb. 17. Americans who use an antenna to watch free, over-the-air television on an analog TV set (and don't subscribe to a pay TV service) will need to purchase a DTV converter box. (Don't worry, if you pay for TV services, such as cable or satellite, then you will not need to upgrade — geeksugar has all the details.) Up until now the government was giving out discount coupons worth $40 to help lessen the cost to consumers, but those funds all wore out and there is now a long waiting list.

What's interesting about the deadline is that it's the first time the government has ever shut off technology that everyone uses. Estimates suggest there are 70 million TVs in the United States that use antennas. Their owners will all see blank screens on the 17th, unless they have a digital converter box.


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EvilDorkGirl EvilDorkGirl 8 years
Hey guys, this pretty much sums it up: I imagine that freeing up some of the spectrum would actually help with emergency communications in the long run.
I have to disagree that it will have any sort of benefit when it comes to emergency broadcasting, and actually think this will have severe issues with emergency/storm broadcasting. As of now, digital television goes in and out if there is high wind or a strong rain. Why is mandating everyone's switch to digital signals going to make this better? Atleast with regular ol' antenna TV, you can still watch the local news during bad weather, for now. And, of course the people this is going to have the biggest negative effect on, are the elderly and low income.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I also think those coupons should have gone to people who truly couldn't afford that switch. Any who got one just because they didn't want to spend the $50 is wrong.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I have heard the ads on the radio as well, am and fm bands. They have been planning this switch for a long time. I used to sell TVS at The Good Guys 10 years ago, and some of the sales people were using it as a tool to sell new TV's even then. I don't think that the government should have implemented the change. But I dislike most government interference so....
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
So no one knows the reasoning behind this switch from analong to digital? Yes there have been many ads - but excuse me if I watch tv I watch programs and change channels during the commercials. I thought most people did this. And even with watching the DTV commercials there is no explanation whatsoever other than "government mandate" to explain why people are expected to either buy a digital converter, sign up for a pay tv service or buy a new digital TV. Yes, free tv airwaves like free radio airwaves is a Free For All service that was mandated but the government long ago. It was to allow every American even the poorest man who only has a battery powered radio to receive immediate info and contact with the out side world. Learned that in a broadcast TV class I took long ago. The US chose not to go the British route and force Americans to obtain a license to view TV because it would service to isolate rural and poor Americans from the rest of the public who could possibly afford such a service. Well, I just found out that supposedly the governments logic is not better tv for some but to free up the analog bandwiths for emergency broadcasts and emergency transmissions. However if most of the American public is digital even most radios are already broadcasting digital - who exactly is going to be able to receive these emergency transmissions. As a civil servant and therefore a disaster service worker for SF I am aware that there are already a multitude of secured emergency bandwiths on analog. Yes, NYC experienced difficulty with their communications during the WTC disaster however that was know to be because of the chaos factor (signals were blocked or broken due to interference from the buildings) and certain members of the departments were having long conversations with each other (who was where and should I check on my family etc - all nature things IMO) but these transmission were delaying critical instructions from dispatchers and chiefs and others in charge. Once all TVs are off the analog waves there are no plans to improve or strength the analog airwaves for use by emergency service providers. So the explanation of switching to free up the analong waves for emergency transmissions seems bogus.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
evildorkgirl I LOVE your avi... ;)
EvilDorkGirl EvilDorkGirl 8 years
Like most of you, I've seen the ads relentlessly not only on TV, but in local newspapers as well. The only thing we'll accomplish by pushing back the deadline is spending more tax money. I'm of the opinion that the vouchers shouldn't have been offered in the first place. TV is a luxury, not one of life's necessities (food, shelter, clothing, water). People managed to survive for thousands of years without television. And if you can't afford food, I seriously doubt your top concern is catching the latest episode of Scrubs. You can always head to the library and get a book for FREE. Let's get on with the digital conversion already!
pioneers pioneers 8 years
I think the fact that we all evidentially have access to a computer and internet says something about how perceptible to communication we are. However, most of the people in question do not have this luxury, and it's the same with TV. Sure, the commercials have been on for a while, but when someone is impoverished and working multiple jobs to support themselves or their family, they might lack the time to watch very much TV at all, sometimes only having a half hour to watch the evening news. The commercials are on frequently, but not at every break. Television is an important means of staying connected, and I wholly believe that there are many people who are simply procrastinating. However, there are also many who cannot afford food, let alone money towards a new converter box. I'm all for the change, but I think that alternate routes of communications should have been explored.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I got in and got myself and my housemate the coupon early. On the website it always said until supplies last. I feel like the the same people who have dragged their feet until a month prior to this deadline will drag their feet until the last minute prior any deadline. I say make the switch and let people catch up. I'm sorry I just can't feel horrible about not being able to watch TV, it's TV for god's sake. As for low income people, you have to buy a tv to watch it and later on there will be used boxes, but for now $50 isn't too much to ask for a one time purchase towards entertainment. Everyone has had over a year to prepare by either filling out the tiny coupon form or saving for a box. If there is a problem it is personal failing and not government failing.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
" feel like all i've seen EVERY day on the regular networks are mentions of this for weeks and weeks - so i don't know what the confusion will be." I agree!
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I don't mind the some point technology moves on, and I think there might be major benefits for emergency response systems. During 9/11 and Katrina, there wasn't enough bandwidth space for emergency response to talk to each other. If this helps that, then I think it should have been done sooner. My question is, why is the gov't paying for the boxes? My bf said because of emergency situations, but in times of emergency the battery powered radio is always the way to go. A tv goes out during a power outage. If it was about emergencies you'd think they would hand out radios. Has tv become such a necessity that people can't live without one?
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
it's interesting to me that people have been saying that this has been poorly communicated. i feel like all i've seen EVERY day on the regular networks are mentions of this for weeks and weeks - so i don't know what the confusion will be. it's going to be interesting to see how things go...
geebers geebers 8 years
But I feel as if this should happen naturally without mandates. I cannot believe people still use antennas nowadays when it is not that expensive to switch to digital. In my opinion, this is something that the government can easily stay out of but just slowly making analog obsolete. People will upgrade.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
poorly implemented? WHat? I have had to watch commercials announcing the switch for a while now, Every electronic store has a sign, who hasnt learned of it yet? Just do it already. Its being done because digital TV has way less bandwidth, which means providers can give us more channels but in the same space, there is less interference and less tuning and "ghosting" on your TV.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
This whole thing is ridiculous to me. My grandma is going to have to buy this converter thing just so she can watch her 3 novelas at night. :oy:
pioneers pioneers 8 years
Also, it's a $20 billion profit for the government, according to CNN.
kpelli73 kpelli73 8 years
I think the actual reason has something to do with freeing up more of the analog broadcasting spectrum, but I am not sure. As for delaying the switch and this being the first time the US government has mandated a deadline for a switch to new technology I actually think that is a good thing. The only way to get everyone to utlize something new is to mandate it like this. The reason that the US doesn't use the metric system (which basically every other country in the world does) is that we refuse to mandate its use across the board. We can't get rid of one dollar bills even though they have tried to launch one dollar coins several times because they allow the bills to stay in circulation. When Canada switched to the one dollar coin they took the bills out of circulation as they came into banks and replaced them with coins. It wouldn't surprise me at all if we blow another transition because of the unwillingness of people to just say this is what we are doing.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
My question about this whole switch is WHY? Why has the government decided that tv stations essentially switch from broadcasting over free public airwaves that any one regardless of income level can acquire to digital which requires the purchase of special equipment, or a new digital tv or subscription to either satellite or cable? I suspect that the cable, satellite and tv manufacturers conspired to find a way to make American pay a fee (aside from collecting revenue from advertisers). Since the FCC cannot explain this to me, I have to go with exclusivity and greed as the reason for the digital switch not "oh the picture is better". Anyone know the actual reason the government has forced this change upon Americans?
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