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Obama Recommends Delay In Digital TV Switch

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-the-coupons-have-been-printed-already dept.

Television 589

gregg writes "Six weeks before the nation's television stations are scheduled to convert to digital transmission, the Obama administration is asking Congress to consider a delay. In the most significant sign to date of concern about the impending digital TV transition, the Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta said the government funds to support the change are 'woefully inadequate' and said that the digital switch date, Feb. 17, should be 'reconsidered and extended.'"

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Really that big deal? (0, Troll)

ADRA (37398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378157)

Maybe its just me not being poor or actually liking cable, but is OTA TV really that pervasive these days?

Re:Really that big deal? (5, Insightful)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378205)

I personally know one person who only uses their antenna, and they mostly watch DVDs anyway. I know some people are pretty bad off, but if you are that concerned about television you should be able to drop $40 on a converter box and not have the government pay for it.

Re:Really that big deal? (5, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378745)

I canceled my Comcast subscription when I found out how good OTA digital looks! Less compressed than digital cable or satellite.

As for "the government paying for it," it's a small fraction of what they sold the reclaimed rf spectrum for.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378783)

Aren't you saving $40 a month anyway by not having cable?

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378907)

but if you are that concerned about television you should be able to drop $40 on a converter box and not have the government pay for it.

Got that right. Let's face it. It is typically less than a monthly high speed internet connection. Do some real good and see if you can get $10/mo off my internet bill.

Re:Really that big deal? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378251)

Maybe its just me not being poor or actually liking cable, but is OTA TV really that pervasive these days?

Yeah. I've been using OTA television for years. I'm not going to pay for crap I don't want.

PBS is great and should continue to be able to deliver their service free of charge. Especially for the underprivileged.

Don't get me wrong though, I think the change is a good one, but I think the converter boxes should be cheaper.

What if radio changed and you had to purchase converters for every radio you own or they would be useless?

Re:Really that big deal? (4, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378357)

I would bet money that in six months, the converter boxes will be cheaper. Why sell your box for $25 when you can tack on an extra $25 and expect people to use a coupon?

Re:Really that big deal? (-1, Offtopic)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378825)

Which, by the way, is a succinct explanation of why socialized medicine sucks.

Re:Really that big deal? (4, Funny)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378415)

PBS is great and should continue to be able to deliver their service free of charge

But we can't do it without your help. PBS relies on your donations to keep on the air, and if you aren't donating, that's the same as stealing! If you watch even one second of PBS and don't contribute, you're a thief. A common thief!

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

GrenDel Fuego (2558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378449)

Elmo knows where you live!

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378855)

I love you.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378883)

Elmo knows where you live!

Arrrr. Elmo h8s p1r4t35!

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378521)

Okay, okay, I'll write you a check later, when the banks open.

Re:Really that big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378845)

People still listen to the Radio?

Re:Really that big deal? (5, Insightful)

Ed_Pinkley (881113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378293)

There are several shows that are in HD and are not compressed. My dad is a digital cable subscriber but still switches to OTA when the show is available because cable has so many compression artifacts. I use OTA only but I am a hold-out. I just hate paying for programming that contains ads. I mean, isn't that what the ads are for?

Re:Really that big deal? (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378599)

I just hate paying for programming that contains ads. I mean, isn't that what the ads are for?

Yes, the ads are paying for the programming. But not for the access. That's what your cable bill is for -- to pay for the wiring and access to the programming.

Or to put it another way, are you surprised that have to pay a bill to your ISP -and- you see ads on cnn.com?

I really don't know why people find the cable-TV concept so confusing.

[and yes, I realize cable is a bit more complicated, in that there are arrangements where cable kicks up some money to a channel for carrying the channel, but that isn't enough to pay for most programming. The point still stands.]

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378725)

Yes, the ads are paying for the programming. But not for the access. That's what your cable bill is for -- to pay for the wiring and access to the programming.

But before cable TV access was free (in the U.S.) with a decent antenna (still is). We still had ads. You could then get cable and pay for a more reliable signal, and pay a little bit more for a channel with no ads (like HBO).

I believe the ad revenue was distributed not just to the programming but to the access points (antenna operation, broadcast stations, etc). I imagine that's still the case, only we're paying some pretty hefty fees for basic cable and heftier fees for a premium channel or two.

You made a nice analogy, but that doesn't mean someone isn't making bank off of us. I'm glad there's some competition now for TV access, but they seem to have standardized on $100/month for lots of HD stations and not many (if any) premium channels, so "competition" isn't really there unless you're a new subscriber.

Re:Really that big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378977)

Ad revenue isn't paying for content anyway, it's paying for your eyeballs.

The product in cable TV is viewers, not shows.

Re:Really that big deal? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378625)

There are several shows that are in HD and are not compressed.

*cough*bullshit*cough*

*Everything* broadcast in HD is compressed.

My dad is a digital cable subscriber but still switches to OTA when the show is available because cable has so many compression artifacts.

That doesn't mean that the OTA stuff isn't compressed, just that it's not *overcomressed*.

Re:Really that big deal? (2, Interesting)

UnixGrunt (124733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378305)

According to this web site (http://dtvfacts.com/latest/530/how-many-americans-watch-tv-over-the-air/) approximately 15.5 million U.S. households watch TV over the air exclusively - presumably receiving analog (NTSC) signals. So a significant number of households will be affected. But they've already delayed the digital TV switch over once. I would recommend that they free up the necessary funds to provide the coupons for the folks who need them.

Re:Really that big deal? (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378471)

US Population - Cable Subscribers - Satellite subscribers means
households watch TV over the air exclusively.

How many of those people live in area which do not get a good signal.
How many of these people just don't watch TV.
How many of these people don't have TV or a Working TV.

How many already have the converter.
How many have a TV that doesn't need a convert.
How many will get one later this month.

Numbers don't lie. But they are quite vague.

Re:Really that big deal? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378323)

For my children it is. They only really watch PBS and we get super shitty reception on that as it is so I'm guessing in the digital tv world of 1's and 0's, they'd be watching a bunch of zeros.

You obviously live some place where you have more than 4 network stations; not so here or most other places in the U.S. for that matter. And the closest one causes the most interference for the other channels.

Can't wait till the reception goes to shit for some community out in Kansas and tornadoes hit. The lawsuits will flood the courts and even if I'd typically consider them as frivolous, they have just as much a right to the public broadcasting services as anyone else, especially in the event of an emergency.

NOAA (3, Informative)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378843)

Why is it people believe just because somebody doesn't receive weather information over the TV that their lives are at risk and that the government is going to be sued. If anybody is truly serious about staying on top of weather information they would have a weather radio and listen to the National Weather Service [wikipedia.org] at critical times operated by NOAA [weather.gov] . There are even radios that can be bought cheaply that automatically turn on whenever severe weather is going on in your county or area.

In my experience of NOAA weather radios they are far more reliable because with all weather radios I've seen so far operate off of batteries which will allow the radio to continue to operate with or without power to the home compared to that of TVs where well: no power, no TV, no weather information.

I have read a few articles that give the impression that once analog broadcasts are turned off then the digital broadcasts will be allowed to boost their power output, but by how much I have no idea. Hopefully this is true because some stations broadcasting in the same county as on the receiving end is just terribly difficult to pickup. The worst so far is WTVF (CBS) here in Nashville, Tennessee that I have noticed.

Re:Really that big deal? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378341)

I know many people don't buy TV programming, and for any number of reasons. My reason is that it's a terribly expensive waste of my life and money. I use OTA TV basically just for the occasional news, weather, or PBS show.

I also have a fundamental problem with paying for TV with commercials. Either give me commercial-free TV for my subscription free or pay for my free TV with commercials. Not both. Come up with a new business model. (Preferably w/o commercials - annoying, incessant ads are what drove me away from TV in the first place.)

  While satellite TV has solved most problems of reception in remote areas, no TV or OTA is often just fine for those folks.

It often boggles my mind the people who go to food banks because they can't afford to feed themselves, yet pay $100/month for deluxe cable, etc.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378643)

I watch tv because I enjoy drama serials. I haven't watched a commercial in 3 years thanks to my comcast tivo clone.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378393)

I had a promo deal for cable for six months. The service was so terrible from Comcast that I canceled. It was most definitely not worth $50 a month. Except for that, since 1995 I have been OTA only.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378617)

Heh, I'm opposite, but with you. I've always had cable, from AT&T cable(yes, they had it!) to Comcast to Dish w/ DVR. Once I moved, I decided no more, and I've been OTA for a long time. The caveat is I'm on a Mac Mini w/ EyeTV so I get digital already, and have been for a few years now.

Re:Really that big deal? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378469)

In a down economy?

Expect a lot more people to be ditching cable and satellite.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378505)

Something doesn't add up here. The article says:

7.8 million households, representing 6.8 percent of homes with television, have not upgraded any of their television sets for the transition. Those homes would be unable to receive any TV signals after the switch.

and

Subscribers to cable or satellite television will not be affected by the transition.

which would suggest 100 million (ish) households with terrestrial TV and the tiny remainder (I'm guessing) on cable.

Wikipedia links to some numbers from 2006 that suggest 60% of "homes" subscribe to basic cable and an effective 100% cable coverage ratio.

The number of homes seems low (I'd have expected ~160 million and the cable coverage way too high (the numbers actually suggest > 100%, which must mean that apples and oranges are being compared somewhere).

So what are the real numbers?

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378959)

I think that 15 million number is slightly misleading. For one thing, many households have multiple televisions, and don't necessarily have cable running to each. Those extra televisions are now worthless. I have a small portable battery-powered television, for camping; it's garbage as soon as the transition kicks in. It wouldn't surprise me if a hundred million televisions are rendered worthless/obsolete because of the transition.

Plus, this means that anybody who currently has cable will now effectively have a $50 fee in order to stop their subscription.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378601)

I am OTA and have been the last decade. HD OTA is even better. I supplement my OTA TV with Netflix Instant.

Figure if I save $50/month, that has saved me at least $6000 over the past decade.

Re:Really that big deal? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378815)

I do over the air. Time Warner won't service my area and the two Sat guys pissed me off when I was looking at getting satellite cable. I guess if the you have had satellite before, you don't get the free install but an hourly visit to see if the old install is viable. Anyways, long story short, the guy from one site cut the lines from the other company right in front of me and acted like I shouldn't care so I said to hell with it about 4 years ago. Those are my three options where I live. There's about three channels I really cared about and I can get one of them over the air. I haven't really missed anything.

In Other Words... (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378199)

In other words, the TV in the Oval Office isn't digital ready, and Obama doesn't want to miss American Idol.

Re:In Other Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378567)

Umm...

1) There has never been a TV in the Oval Office.
2) I seriously doubt that Barack Obama watches American Idol. He won't have time to watch it anyway.

Re:In Other Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378789)

woosh... Everybody knows that the president just has his aides watch it for him, and brief him on salient plot points.

Re:In Other Words... (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378927)

I thought he watched it on his Zune.

Re:In Other Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378877)

"In other words, the TV in the Oval Office isn't digital ready, and Obama doesn't want to miss American Idol."

He already won it.

Converter coupons are already sold-out (2)

rsborg (111459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378201)

Given the dtv coupon program is broke [gizmodo.com] , it probably makes sense.

Fact is a lot of people aren't affected by the switch (me included) but I think it's only fair for those who can't get the help transitioning, to be able to have extra time to switch over.

Re:Converter coupons are already sold-out (5, Insightful)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378295)

It seems to me that anyone that hasn't received a coupon by now is just going to wait until the next deadline. Wasn't analog supposed to go off the air in 2006? Enough delays already, time to just rip the bandaid off.

They've had years (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378307)

The switch was already supposed to happen years ago, but they delayed things back then for the same reason. Should we delay forever and waste a huge amount of spectrum on an ancient broadcasting mechanism?

I think the program is out of money because a lot of people who don't even need coupons are getting them - my guess is that probably half of the people at least do not understand that if they have cable they don't need a different box.

There's still more than a month til the switch, time enough to sort out who really needs help and help them.

Re:They've had years (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378635)

The switch was already supposed to happen years ago, but they delayed things back then for the same reason. Should we delay forever and waste a huge amount of spectrum on an ancient broadcasting mechanism?

And to what great use are Verizon and AT&T putting this spectrum? Assuming I'm not a customer of either, how is this better for me? Especially if I don't have cable or a coupon...

I think the program is out of money because a lot of people who don't even need coupons are getting them - my guess is that probably half of the people at least do not understand that if they have cable they don't need a different box.

Probably true, but I think people also underestimate the number of homes who use antennae. In any event, a lot of people who do need the converter couldn't get one before their coupon expired because the only stores that had them in stock were the ones that weren't honoring the coupons.

There's still more than a month til the switch, time enough to sort out who really needs help and help them.

A month is like an instant in government time.

Re:They've had years (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378979)

Fuck what Verizon and AT&T are doing with their chunk of it, I just want the OTA folk to start using their chunks correctly. Right now I've got a TV in my room that half works digital (because everyone is broadcasting at something like 10% of their full power to avoid interference with analog signals) and half works analog (because not all the stations have their digital and analog towers in the same location and I've moved the anntena to attempt to get the best digital reception).

Just fucking do it already. It was suppose to happen years ago but people kept saying "we aren't ready!".

Most of the people who haven't upgraded, won't unless it actually breaks. The longer and more drawn out we make this already extremely overdue process, the more painful it's going to be.

Re:They've had years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378913)

Switch already. Just make sure the stores have boxes at a fair price. People might have to save up a one time amount of $40 to get TV again.

I only use digital OTA (HD) on my three TVs and Mythbuntu box.

This will be a non-story by March 1st if it goes off as planned. People might have to switch antennas or find a box, but it isn't too hard.

Re:Converter coupons are already sold-out (2, Insightful)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378391)

I think it's only fair for those who can't get the help transitioning, to be able to have extra time to switch over.

What about all the companies who bought licenses for those frequencies and would now have to wait until it becomes politically acceptable? I don't think they would approve the government changing their contracts.

Hey, just doing you a favor... (3, Insightful)

ndykman (659315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378207)

Given the state of broadcast television, I can't say blacking some people out wouldn't do them a favor. Okay, you need to get a convertor box and you may have to wait to get one, but if we encourage people in the meantime to read a book, go to the library, use the computer there and read the news and so on, that's bad? Really?

I mean, I'm scared that people think that TV is that much of a requirement. Local news is nice and all, sure, but you can make do.

Re:Hey, just doing you a favor... (0)

NetRanger (5584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378287)

Think about people in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, etc -- they need those over-the-air TV signals for severe weather warnings starting in April or so. The TV is often the difference between life and death in Tornado Alley. So if people are stuck without the money to buy a converter, then by all means, let's give them a bit more time. It's not like DTV hasn't taken off.

Re:Hey, just doing you a favor... (4, Insightful)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378407)

They can get emergency broadcasts over the radio, and will probably have more options as there are doubtless more radio stations than television stations.

Re:Hey, just doing you a favor... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378651)

"Think about people in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, etc..."

Well here in central Nebraska, we are already set to go. Our local CBS PBS and NBC affiliates are already digital, and have switched off analog early. Analog only folks still get ABC and FOX for now, but they have been warned.

Also, if there is any kind of power outage in this area, TV is useless, as NONE of the local TV stations have backup generators. All of the major radio stations do have backup power, and stay on the air with live updates during storms. Everyone knows that, so we just grab a radio when we need current weather info.

Re:Hey, just doing you a favor... (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378735)

Radio

Re:Hey, just doing you a favor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378951)

I can't say blacking some people out wouldn't do them a favor.

racist.

Change! (2, Funny)

zulater (635326) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378215)

He just want's to change everything the previous administration did!

The American Public Will Never Learn (1)

ribitribit2008 (1341055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378221)

It was a reality the second the first coupon was given away. Those smart enough to get in on in the last year are fine, now those who didn't are starting to whine. I don't even need my two, but picked them up anyways.

Re:The American Public Will Never Learn (5, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378329)

I don't even need my two [coupons], but picked them up anyways.

Uhh, I think they ran out of money because they have allocated it all towards coupons that have been distributed, but haven't been redeemed or expired.

In other words, you (and those like you) are part of the reason the program has run out of funding.

([coupons] assumed based on your post. If you meant [converter boxes], blowing taxpayer money and carbon dioxide for two pieces of junk to sit in your garage is equally foolish.)

Re:The American Public Will Never Learn (1)

sl0ppy (454532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378575)

I think they ran out of money because they have allocated it all towards coupons that have been distributed, but haven't been redeemed or expired.

exactly! i am counted toward that - i received two coupons, but they were both expired by the time converter boxes started showing up in my market. isn't there some way to account for those?

Re:The American Public Will Never Learn (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378763)

exactly! i am counted toward that - i received two coupons, but they were both expired by the time converter boxes started showing up in my market. isn't there some way to account for those?

Same here. I'm pretty sure that the money for an expired coupon goes back into the pool, but that doesn't mean you get dibs on a replacement, and now you can't get one at all.

Re:The American Public Will Never Learn (3, Funny)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378721)

I would recommend that everybody should get their coupon, even if they have cable, if for no other reason than emergency preparedness. Sometimes you may need to catch a broadcast while the cable feeding to your living room is on the fritz.

The cost of the coupon program is (a) a small fraction of the profit made by auctioning off the frequencies, and (b) a small fraction of the money this is costing consumers who are being forced into upgrading.

Re:The American Public Will Never Learn (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378713)

It was a reality the second the first coupon was given away. Those smart enough to get in on in the last year are fine, now those who didn't are starting to whine. I don't even need my two, but picked them up anyways.

What does "smart" have to do with it when you have a coupon in hand, but no store in a 45 minute drive has converters?

And by the time converters show up, your coupon has expired?

And then you try to get another coupon, but the program is out of funding so no more coupon for you?

Or are you talking about how "smart" you were to take two coupons that some poor family could have used?

Too late!!! (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378233)

What about all the people that have already bought equipment and are waiting for the stations to go full power with DV? What about all of the stations who have spent tons of money and time gearing up for the switch? In my city (Denver) we have a large new tower built for broadcasting HD, and part of the promise to the residents of the area was that after the switch happened the old towers (and associated problems with them broadcasting) would go away. If you let this linger another year or two they are kind of screwed.

It's going to have to happen sometime, it might as well be now. Yes it sucks that the coupon program is underfunded (the web site you use to get coupons says they are out of money, so no more coupons are to be had), so make it a priority to get coupons out to those in rural areas much less likely to have cable or satellite already.

You just can't decide at the last moment to pull the rug out from under what is a useful technical move forward. There has to be some continuity between what government says will happen and what actually happens, or all dissolves to chaos as government promises are further devalued.

Re:Too late!!! (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378291)

One of the local tv stations is going to make the switch one week early, so no matter what the govt says at this point is probably irrelevant anyway.

Conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378887)

It's all part of conspiracy to make the government as irrelevant as the UN.

"All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" George Bush, September 12, 2002

[http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html]

Re:Too late!!! (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378955)

What about all of the stations who have spent tons of money and time gearing up for the switch? In my city (Denver) we have a large new tower built for broadcasting HD, and part of the promise to the residents of the area was that after the switch happened the old towers (and associated problems with them broadcasting) would go away. If you let this linger another year or two they are kind of screwed.

Well it's not like they aren't allowed to broadcast digitally (many already are), or turn off their analog broadcasts, whenever they want. Feb 17th is merely the date for mandatory shut down of the analog broadcast. If the stations aren't doing so now then that's because, just as has been the case since the mandatory switch was first proposed, they don't want to.

You just can't decide at the last moment to pull the rug out from under what is a useful technical move forward. There has to be some continuity between what government says will happen and what actually happens, or all dissolves to chaos as government promises are further devalued.

You mean like the promise that this government-mandated change won't screw over poor people by letting them get cheap converters? Yeah, it'd sure be a shame if government promises were devalued further.

Riot (4, Insightful)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378253)

There will be riots on street, if millions of low income homes are out of TV.

No, seriously.

Re:Riot (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378385)

So people need to just remember to loot a new TV or converter box. Problem solved!

Re:Riot (1)

Ykant (318168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378647)

You would be surprised at how many low-income homes have cable.

Re:Riot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378793)

And can afford cigarettes, and a steady supply of liquor. And haven't cooked a meal at home for years. Constantly broke is a lifestyle choice for a LOT of people.

Re:Riot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378853)

We cant even afford to give them a one time coupon, but expect to finance health care for the remainder of their lives???

Maybe its time to transfer some more of the goverment "surplus", aka "debt", over to the transition budget just to patch things over!

Lets keep us needlessly behind the time. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378265)

Why is the government pushing digital. It is not for the clearer image. It is because it takes less airspace, and you can free and resell a lot of the airspace.
However that said. Delaying this isn't really going to help anything. Most Americans either don't watch TV (perhaps playing movies) or have cable or satellite hooked up. The largest group effected is the Sr. Citizens. Who are not much effected by the economy (minus the ones with good 401k) but for the most part the pain going digital will be the same today as it will be next year.
Besides there is no important information that you can get on TV that you cant get via the Radio. You may actually get it faster via the radio.

Re:Lets keep us needlessly behind the time. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378703)

No, next year the arthritis will be that much worse.
Those coax cables behind the set must be murder.

Re:Lets keep us needlessly behind the time. (1)

SuseLover (996311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378863)

Why is the government pushing digital. It is not for the clearer image. It is because it takes less airspace, and you can free and resell a lot of the airspace. However that said. Delaying this isn't really going to help anything. Most Americans either don't watch TV (perhaps playing movies) or have cable or satellite hooked up. The largest group effected is the Sr. Citizens. Who are not much effected by the economy (minus the ones with good 401k) but for the most part the pain going digital will be the same today as it will be next year. Besides there is no important information that you can get on TV that you cant get via the Radio. You may actually get it faster via the radio.

It is because the digital signals can be controlled via DRM and broadcast flag. Then they will have complete control over the broadcasts & content. There is still not a consumer-level HDDVR on the market and I'm tired of renting cable/dish/tivo stuff, I want my own and to have choices of models & features.

Nooooo (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378273)

Noooooo. Let's let things actually finish. We're SO CLOSE.

Fun the coupon program better with an executive order. Let analog stay on at night for a while in "nightlight mode" as has been discussed (just shows a "you need a converter box" screen).

But please, we're so close. The trial in November went very well, and the nightlight thing was shown to be very helpful.

But please don't delay things. "Enough people" will never be ready. This needs to happen, it's not like it's news. We've known about this for 2+ years.

Re:Nooooo (4, Funny)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378353)

Fun the coupon program better with an executive order.

I know its hard to grasp after the last 8 years, but Constitutionally the US is not an executive dictatorship where the President can just allocate funds to any purpose he chooses on a whim.

Re:Nooooo (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378629)

Well, it's not supposed to be.

Re:Nooooo (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378753)

But the last president wrote up a trillion dollar war and a 1.1 trillion bailout. Surely this president can squeak out a 100 billion dollar tv coupon fund?

launch this thing (1)

Aja Jin (1271094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378281)

for goodness sake, if people aren't ready by now, they never will be. even my luddite sister in law has a converter box. delays would probably screw up all the stations that have busted ass to get ready.

What about the people who paid for the spectrum? (3, Insightful)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378311)

After all, the spectrum that TV uses have already being partly sold. Wouldn't Verizon, et. al. be rather annoyed about this development?

Re:What about the people who paid for the spectrum (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378779)

Oh yes, won't someone please think of the corporations?

Our Airwaves are not utilized efficiently. Free'em (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378337)

A system of interconnected network of wireless radio employing dish antennas would be as revolutionary as the internet.

News crews use ground microwaves. No more to the Golf channel,Bet,Mtv and QVC! Yeah!

Great idea (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378413)

Well, it would have been 9-12 months ago. Now, current broadcasters are in the final stages of switching over and some have even decreased signal strength on analog broadcasts in preparation.

One of the big problems - having a fringe-area television with a rooftop mast and rotator - is at that house we go from 4-5 channels to 1 digital one. Period. Now maybe we will get more when (if?) they increase the digital signal strength but it seems unlikely. Repeat this throughout the rural areas of the country and you will have a significant impact on television watching.

The problem is, 30 days out from the switchover is a little too late to delay it. People have made their peace with the transition one way or another. For my house it will absolutely be cable or nothing. How many rural TV owners have already decided they can just do without? Especially after seeing what dismal results a converter box gives them.

Sure in cities there may be a lot more people with analog TVs that need get a converter box, and the idea the government was going to buy them for people sort of fell down. The government was never going to put out the kind of money it would really take to do that, and it was fairly obvious early on. A better approach might have been for the current advertisers to pay a tax to keep viewers watching.

What happens in February? My guess is that there is a slight shift in ad demographics and it is all for the worse for advertisers. Not exactly the sort of thing that will do any good in the current economic situation because for these advertisers increased spending isn't going to help. What will the real impact of more-or-less ceasing OTA television be in the US? Not sure, but I do not see this as an overall good move.

OTA television provided a certain cultural foundation for the last 50-60 years or so. You could more or less count on people watching certain popular shows. Without free OTA television it will fragment the culture more and provide less common experiences to share between people. We will further retreat to our own (smaller) cultural worlds and have less in common with our neighbors and coworkers. The Internet fosters this kind of isolationism. Good thing? It is if you are all about "diversity" and seeing no point to having any common ground with your neighbors. Chatting with people half a world away online isn't the same thing.

The introduction of TV fragmented communities (1)

Geof (153857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378803)

Without free OTA television it will fragment the culture more and provide less common experiences to share between people. We will further retreat to our own (smaller) cultural worlds and have less in common with our neighbors and coworkers. The Internet fosters this kind of isolationism.

I agree with your concerns. Culture matters tremendously precisely for its ability to bring people together, which is a precondition for everything from politics to basic human happiness.

However, the evidence suggests that you have your causes backwards. Research shows a strong causal connection between the advent of TV and a sharp decline in community life. Robert Putnam talks about this in his book Bowling Alone. The DVD version of The Naked City features an interview with James Sanders, who describes the impact of TV on city life in New York. Here's an excerpt:

. . .the story is, is for all of its crowding and all of its density and all of its foreignness and strangeness, it was basically just like a big village and basically was a place where the kids played and people when to market and people other people elderly people sort of watched the world passing. . . . the year it was made - 1947, crucial year. Why? Because it was one of the very very very last years before television. By '49 and 1950 . . . you had hundreds of thousands of people watching TV every night in New York City and the whole rhythm of life in big city . . . changed. People left the street. And what you see in The Naked City, in virtually its last year of existence, is a kind of a way of life, in a big city way of life, that began in, say, the 1830s really . . . you can certainly see it in the scenes down on the Lower East Side - the children are playing, the mothers are leaning out the window, the kids are playing downstairs on the sidewalks and streets and the little playgrounds. And there's just a kind of old world life on the streets that you would associate with an Italian town or something like that. But that's the way people lived in New York too, until that year or the year after and then it would all change.

As for the effect Internet, a number of studies have found that people who socialize more online also socialize more offline. Cyberspace is very rarely the '80s vision of this other world where we take on other identities and socialize with strangers (the old dog on the Internet). For the most part it's a medium we use to reinforce the relationships we have with people we know in the real world. Now that may be a step down from the street life Sanders describes - the pre-broadcast world in which we made our entertainment (playing sports, singing songs, and so on instead of waiting for someone else to provide them to us), but it's light years ahead of the private CBS & me experience of watching TV alone in the dark.

Re:Great idea (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378819)

I disagree with your defintion of Rural. If you get cable or OTA at all I think you're pretty close to the city. Which gives you more of a right to bitch, actually.

Rural you don't get cable, or OTA, or cell(unless you are near a highway).

I promise the shared cultural experience is there, most rural houses I've seen with TV have satellite, you'll even see the big ol' C-band(right term?) out there every now and then, but mostly you find dish/directv.

As for my qualifications, I'm from Ezzell, TX, 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hrs outside of Houston. We have to drive about 25 mins to the highway to get cell service. No FM/AM without booster, and zero TV signal. No cable, and for the longest time, Party Line telephone was cheaper than individual lines, that changes in 2001 I believe. Brenham and New Ulm are the same, except Brenham has a cable co, although you won't get it far outside of town. But Brenham is not rural, it's just a small town out in the country. (Lovely too if you have a chance to visit, stop by Blue Bell for samples and tour).

Re:Great idea (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378961)

Aww man that last paragraph cracked me up. What kind of healthy cultural foundation has TV given us over the last 50-60 years? If your social interaction with people revolved around your mutual addition to the same TV show, you weren't (aren't) any better off than those who bask in the warm glow of the internet's radiant love.

Now I gotta go check up and see if gamespy has published any new articles in the past 15 minutes...

Do it, get it over with. (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378439)

I'd rather do it and suffer consequences.

Because asking somebody to fix something with a movable timeline means it NEVER gets fixed.

If they keep the timeline, you can guarantee there will be people up nights and weekends to get it done on time. Just like the year 2000, where almost nothing happened because of the massive amount of work behind the scenes. Not like they could move that date either.

Re:Do it, get it over with. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378581)

Y2K was a joke.

It's done. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378709)

People will be up nights and weekends to get their converter boxes?

It's not the networks and stations that need extra time, they're ready already.

Why? (2, Insightful)

RedHelix (882676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378447)

Why should the government still be obligated to assist everyone at this stage in the game? The coupon program dried up; tough noogies, you've only had nearly a year to apply for one. If you needed the discount that badly, then you should have taken 2 minutes to apply earlier. And if you can't muster up the cash to rub two 20's together, your ability to watch television should not be anywhere on your radar at the moment.

Beh

What happened to Homer Simpson, with no TV? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378465)

I seem to remember that it was a parody of "The Shining".

The US has enough problems right now. They don't need a bunch of TV-starved psychos running around, killing their families, as well.

Re:What happened to Homer Simpson, with no TV? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378851)

Actually, whittling down the dumber portion of the population would probably help a lot with the economy. Food distribution costs would plummet, freeing up capital for new investment, among other benefits.

Re:What happened to Homer Simpson, with no TV? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378929)

Homer: "No TV and no beer make Homer something something..."
Marge: "...go crazy?"
Homer: "Don't mind if I do! WAAAH WAAAH HOO HA HOO..."

Digital In Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26378511)

When they pushed digital set top boxes to make your TV more awesome my next door neighbour got one. Then everytime there was a medium to strong wind he would lose signal or when a cloud past over his house. Extreme quality, i can't imagine if they try an implement it without backing it up with enough funding, it would probably turn out like aour current broadband system, shit.

Some areas are already done (1)

rufey (683902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378537)

In Utah at least, there are two areas where the analog signals have already been turned off. Granted they are areas that are served via translator stations, but AFIK, the analog signals were turned off (one in December, one earlier).

All stations should be broadcasting in digital already. Most Utah stations have been broadcasting in digital for a while. They turned on the digital broadcast tower in 1999 (see here [wikipedia.org] ) for which most local stations use. The only reason for the delay would be to give the consumer with old televisions more time to get a converter box if they need one. The infrastructure on the broadcaster side has to all be in place and ready to go by now, otherwise they'd probably miss the deadline.

So Much for Change (1, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378561)

He also supports keeping the space shuttle on life support (@ $3B/yr).

Get On With It! (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378569)

Oh, hell no. I am so tired of all the PSA, and businesses running ads, about how I can be ready for The Big Switch, I could scream. Leave it alone, and let it happen.

plenty of warning (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378653)

Seriously, how many YEARS of warning have we all had now? Just do it already.

Radios to receive digital TV sound? (3, Interesting)

tetranz (446973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378675)

I hope there will be cheap radios that can pickup digital TV sound like there is now for analog.

During the recent long power outage in New Hampshire, we found it very useful to have a little radio that picked up TV sound. The coverage of the emergency seemed to be better on TV than radio.

Radios like that will soon be less useful.

Already Happening in Boston. (2)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378679)

Publicity-starved WZMY Derry-Boston (MyTV affil) shut down their analog signal on 50 on Dec. 1 to what seems to be no ill effects. They ran their station in "nightlight mode" (Lowering power with a loop saying to effect "This used to be the analog signal of WZMY Derry... we've moved to digital." WFXT Boston met a little less happier fate. Their analog transmitter had been malfuctioning, and in Mid-December they gave up on it. With two months then to redeploy, the bean counters just wouldn't go with a project to revive the analog signal, so they're all-digital ready or not. Some stations are set to receive upgrades when the analog services go away. For example, WHDH-DT is off in UHF neverland, but once the analog WHDH 7 goes away, WHDH-DT gets the 7 slot not just on the logical dial, but also the physical frequency space.

Won't Somebody Think Of (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378683)

Gilligan?

At least have someone (Morgan Freeman?) read out the ATSC spec for a few days prior to the switch so the professor can whip up a coconut converter box!

(Yes, I know they were rescued.)
(Yes, I know they went back.)

TV in Los Angeles (4, Interesting)

$lingBlade (249591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378723)

I can't speak for everywhere obviously, but here in Los Angeles pulling the plug on the analog transmissions is a big big deal. Not just because of Southern California's population but because of it's LATINO population.

I work in this industry for a Low Power Analog TV station (one that broadcasts on 4 different stations locally and a bunch more across the country). And the transition represents about 80% of my workload lately (I do broadcast engineering and IT).

But back on point, a LOT and I mean like hundreds of thousands of Latino families in the area rely on OTA transmissions. When you pull their plug, you might say "great, now they can go outside, read a book, etc" but in reality they're not tuned in. So that means advertising revenue dries up for the station (as it has for ours and almost every other that caters to the Latino community as well as mainstream tv programming). That means more layoffs and so on down the line.

Speaking for my company and other smaller players this delay is a good thing. Eventually the analog stations will go away and that's fine and eventually the low power guys like myself will have a concrete deadline too, and that's fine as well. Just remember though, millions have cable, direcTV, Dish, etc but there are still MORE than a few out there that really rely on plain vanilla over the air TV broadcast.

IPv6 (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378827)

Maybe Obama can consider a deadline for conversion to IPv6 instead?

That's something that actually matters. TV is something from the last millennium.

This would save US consumers money (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26378957)

And allow us to not be in such an all-fired rush.

I just learned that the Comcast HDTV delivery to my home in ultra-wired Fremont is only 1080i, which is barely better than 720p, so if waiting means I can save $500 on the price of a TV set I can't afford, cool.

Besides, all these purchases are for foreign-manufactured HDTV and game consoles to play the content (like Sony), so delay may be a very very good thing.

I'd rather spend it on a US-made computer anyway.

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