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Senate Passes Another Bill To Delay Digital TV Transition

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the it's-almost-like-they're-worried dept.

Television 318

An anonymous reader tips news that the US Senate has passed another bill to delay the transition to digital TV. This is the second such bill to pass the Senate; the first was narrowly defeated in the House. The new version has an important difference — it would allow the transition to take place gradually over the four-month period between the original transition date (February 17th) and the extended date (June 12th). TV stations around the country could choose when they wanted to make the change, allowing those who have already begun plans to stop analog transmission to continue their shut-down operations.

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318 comments

more time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677393)

More time?

How much MORE is this costing us? (5, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677413)

I'm someone who doesn't watch much TV. I'm sure other people could go a few days (or however long it takes them to find out what's wrong with their television set) without TV. Now, how much MORE is this bill costing me in taxpayer dollars? And you justify this HOW?

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677475)

Because some people took no action to get a DTV tuner, and now the government feels really bad about it. Naturally, their response is to delay everything. Those people are never going to be ready.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677643)

Yup. But IT WILL WORK.

We switched to digital TV long ago in Finland (Honestly, I can't understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so far behind in this matter. What the hell is taking you so long?). It was delayed once due to not enough people having bought tuners. Then, they noticed that after the delay a lot of people still hadn't bought but didn't delay it more. And guess what? Within the last few weeks before the old broadcasts ending, the rest of the people bought them.

Why would they have bought the tuners earlier? The longer you wait, the cheaper the technology gets and the better tuner you can buy. We bought our digibox well before we would have needed to but if we had bought one on last possible occasion, there would have been better models on the market for the same price...

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (3, Interesting)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677801)

>We switched to digital TV long ago in Finland (Honestly, I can't
>understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so
>far behind in this matter.

My experience, from living in various countries, is that the US is generally a bit behind the curve when it comes to consumer electronics technology, such as tv. We do tend to have more interesting things to watch on our tvs though.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (5, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678087)

No to mention a population and land size about a zillion times larger. That complicates public service/standards programs.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (4, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677785)

Some people took action, but didn't get one.

I was in the store in the early days of the coupon thing looking for digital tuners to compare. Best Buy and the other stores were totally out of them. If I gotten my coupons back then I might not have been able to get one because the coupons expire in 30 days.

Right now a lot of people have applied for coupons, but they are out. So although those folks took action and applied, they won't be getting one until the govt decides to print out another batch.

Going postal (2, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677491)

it's fear. If tens of million of people can't watch TV for a week, there's going to be a lot of grumpy people. I suspect that some people won't even be able to sleep without their before bedtime TV ritual.

Just like when there's a black out and there's increase rioting there will be people milling around with nothing to do looking for trouble.

Yes a few "enlightened" individuals will have a rebirth as they discover life without TV. I predict a raft of books on the topic of self actualization in 6 months.

But a much large set will not take it well I think.

Then of course there's the simple logistics of how you stock and sell that many flat screen TVs. I suspect this is non-trivial. There just are not that many unhelpful sales clerks to go around, let alone to process the returns when people find a better buy the next week.

Don't say cable cause there are even less cable instalers and they are even less helpful.

plus think of your broadband when everyone on your block gets cable plus internet.

there will be price gouging. etc...

a staged transition sounds sensible to me.

Re:Going postal (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677705)

Then of course there's the simple logistics of how you stock and sell that many flat screen TVs. I suspect this is non-trivial. There just are not that many unhelpful sales clerks to go around, let alone to process the returns when people find a better buy the next week.

What do flat panel TVs have to do with the switch at all? You do realize that old CRTs will continue to work perfectly, right? This is all about signal decoding and if the TV is capable of decoding the signal properly, not about how it's displayed by the device.

Re:Going postal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677715)

We've had a staged transition. ATSC was approved in 1996 and has been in use in most markets for over 3 years. In many markets, you can use an ATSC tuner now to get most or all of the channels you could get with an NTSC tuner.

Also note that you do not need a flat screen TV. First off, CRTs are sold with ATSC (and QAM) tuners. Secondly, they sell these things called "converter boxes" that are just an ATSC tuner with NTSC baseband composite and modulated outputs. With only roughly 2% "unprepared" and many of those people who just don't care about TV or didn't have TV reception in the first place, this is a non-issue except in major markets where the market can very easily support a large number of non-ready consumers.

Re:Going postal (4, Interesting)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677735)

Well I think the US chose the wrong time to switch. We should have done the switch Saturday Jan 31st. Then half the country would have missed the Superbowl and maybe that would be the catalyst for change in DC. I swear that could work.....

Re:Going postal (1)

delvsional (745684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677985)

We should have done the switch Saturday Jan 31st. Then half the country would have missed the Superbowl

Awesome

Fear (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678287)

it's fear.

Maybe you're right, but the wrong way around. There is huge money being made by certain parties through fear. Guns are being sold because of fear. Security checkpoints are being installed because of fear. People are being kept in power because of fear. But how can you maintain that fear when the propaganda machinery can't speak to the people? How can the US Military keep their big fat war budget going if Joe Sixpack loses the fear that Mohammed Al Qaeda is going to repossess his motor home? What's going to happen when half the country isn't being fed a diet of fear and pessimism? What's going to happen when the US snaps out of its TV induced hypnosis? It would be interesting to find out.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (2, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677533)

Nothing besides the pay for the senators that should be doing something else.

It's all paid for out of the sale price of the freed spectrum. And that price isn't changing.

---

What bothers me a lot more about all of this is that, barely mentioned as an aside during transition conversation, is that many channels will be moving frequencies of their digital stations during the transition.

Every single local station in Austin has a digital broadcast already. I receive them all wonderfully with my little antenna plugged into my Dish Network DVR, so I can tune three channels at once (two satellite, one OTA).

However - I only have a UHF antenna. If the digital broadcasts move back to their old, analog slots on transition day, then
1) All my presets break.
2) I might lose any stations that move back into VHF.

That means folks like me, who are already "prepared" for the transition, might have problems too. Those are all problems I can solve (only Fox is a VHF station in Austin on analog, and I can live without). But what about all the people with converter boxes that needed help getting them set up? Are we all going to have to make rounds with our friends & families to rescan channels to find the new locations?

This really just isn't clear at all. I wish they would work this out by shifting markets one at a time, perhaps starting on the east coast and working west, so it's not the whole country having problems all at once. And that's why I think a slower transition makes more sense.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677587)

Uh, they've already sold off the old frequency used by the analog stations to Verizon. They aren't moving the digital stations.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (4, Informative)

camperslo (704715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677841)

Uh, they've already sold off the old frequency used by the analog stations to Verizon. They aren't moving the digital stations.

Because of the analog stations still in operation and the interference issues from so many (digital AND analog) stations being on at once, some of the digital transmitters operating now are on temporary channels and WILL move again at transition time. That certainly applies to the stations using channels above 51.

Although your digital receiver probably displays a number with a decimal after it as the channel, much of the time that number is the old analog channel not the channel actually being used for the digital transmission.

With stations shifting around and a few new ones appearing, viewers will need to use the scan-channel or add channel functions to get the new/moved signals. So even those that think they're already set up have a little work left to do to see everything that their equipment can get.

Re:How much MORE is this costing us? (3, Insightful)

gluefish (899099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678157)

This is an example of the idea that you should be kind to the puppy by only chopping an inch of his tail at a time.

Great (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677447)

So instead of having just one date that everyone knew about, the switch for your local stations could happen anytime during a 4-month period. I'm sure that won't cause anymore confusion.

Oh, yeah, that'll work (5, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677453)

Firstly, there's a pigeonhole problem here -- in order for some stations to take up their final digital frequency assignments, other stations will have to move theirs (usually back to their analog channel). This is one of the main reasons it was to be done all at once in the first place.

Secondly, this is going to be even MORE confusing. OK, so the person living in a cave for the past few months who comes out turns on their TV on February 18 would have gotten nothing. But at least they'd have some clue that something is wrong. With a gradual transition, maybe they'll lose CBS but not NBC and Fox... then the next month they'll lose Fox but keep CBS, etc. That's not making things any simpler.

Re:Oh, yeah, that'll work (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677887)

All our local channels say they aren't delaying, no matter what the congress decides. There are reports last time this came up that some stations have already switched.

Imagine you're running IT/electrical for one of these channels. You've been planning for months to shut everything off on a certain date. You're planning on rolling out digital channels in early Feb and cutting the analog mid Feb, it'll cost a ton to just switch that plan up.

Re:Oh, yeah, that'll work (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677925)

All our local channels say they aren't delaying, no matter what the congress decides. There are reports last time this came up that some stations have already switched.

Congress (or the FCC given enough authority from Congress) can say "If you want to keep your digital license, you have to keep your analog station running until the transition."

Of course, if they do that, it'll be a major problem for stations with facilities leased until 2/17/2009...

Re:Oh, yeah, that'll work (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678101)

Considering this new bill says they aren't forcing any of them to keep analog, I don't see this being an issue.

Re:Oh, yeah, that'll work (2, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678309)

Congress (or the FCC given enough authority from Congress) can say "If you want to keep your digital license, you have to keep your analog station running until the transition."

On the other hand a station can turn around and say "we have already made all the arrangements to switch and can't rely on the hardware even still being there after the 17th of Feb."

Re:Oh, yeah, that'll work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678163)

"some stations to take up their final digital frequency assignments..."

What are you talking about.

Television doesn't work that way. There are national broadcasters, regional broadcasters, and local broadcasters. They all moved to digital a long time ago 'in their plant'. There are no analog plants left. There may be analog silos within those facilities but they long ago switched to digital at the ingress and egress points to take advantage of MPEG-2 technology. What is left is not some magic reallocation of channel bandwidth on either cable or antenna (off-air). Off air transmission (counter intuitive name) moved to digital a long time ago as well EXCEPT for their output for cable. Its all digital up to the point that it switches back (decodes to) analog. For any broadcaster this is simply a matter of switching OFF what is till there, freeing up spectrum. The actual spectrum reassignment will take place in *minutes* since the mapping of content to spectrum is completely arbitrary to begin with.

What everyone is worried about is not the cable plant, broadcaster, frequency/spectrum reassignment, technology, or anything else to do with the source of the transmission, it is simply the consumer backlash that everyone is worried about.

Slowly Now (5, Insightful)

jswinth (528529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677459)

Yes, yes, lets rip off that bandage as slooooowly as possible so we extend the pain and confusion as long as possible.

< /sarcasm>

ONE question (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677465)

WHY?

Re:ONE question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677525)

Well, obviously someone is lobbying the government to take this course of action. The question is who?

Is it the TV stations, because they know that enough converters haven't been sold to ensure that everyone can keep watching?

Is it the manufacturers of the converters because they don't feel like they've sold enough?

Is it the government because it knows how many coupons have(n't) been redeemed vs the number of people who watch TV?

Or is it someone else...? Are there some television stations that haven't yet converted all of their transmitters and want more time?

Re:ONE question (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677559)

You forgot that they have like 1.5 million people on a waiting list for the converters. Of course, none of the legislation passed forces them to use more of their cash for the converters. They just want to wait till the ones they've given out expire so that they can reissue them.

Re:ONE question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677857)

instead of delaying dtv because the people on the wating list dont have a coupon, just give the people on the list a $40 tax credit for 2009 and get on with the dtv switch.

To the people who would say "But the poor people can't buy one then". My response would be if someone can't scrape together $40 in a year(that's about how long these announcemnts on tv have been running) then they might need financial assistance in other, more important, areas of their life such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. before getting money for a converter box. But I digress, some of the "poor people" find watching Jerry Springer more important than fixing the hole in their roof.

Re:ONE question (4, Interesting)

MrBlue VT (245806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677657)

It is Clearwire that has a vested interest in this delay. They are attempting to roll out WiMax service to compete with the broadband 4G service Verizon is planning to offer on the freed up analog frequencies.

And guess which company one of the executives on Obama's DTV transition team works for? That's right, Clearwire...

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/01/4g-war-conflict-of-interests-loom-behind-possible-dtv-delay.ars [arstechnica.com]

Just more cleanChicago politics coming to DC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677781)

What? Chicago isn't known for clean politics?

Say it ain't so!

Re:ONE question (2, Informative)

isdnip (49656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678143)

No, Clearwire isn't involved in the DTV transition.

Clearwire and Sprint have a near-lock on the 2500-2690 MHz band. Nextel and Sprint (before the merger) had been buying up licenses there, some of which were originally MMDS "wireless cable" (an early-1990s failure). They also have leases on some of the educational channels there (held by universities, schools, and churches -- the Catholic Church is the largest holder).

The 700 MHz bands were auctioned off, with Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, and other cellular/mobile providers being the major buyers. VZW and ATT bid them up high in a desperate move to keep newcomers from getting the licenses. Also, Qualcomm bought two TV channels (55 and 56) for MediaFlo.

PLEASE stop (5, Interesting)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677471)

There will always be millions of people who will have problems with the switchover. Most are poor and / or elderly. No amount of delay and / or money thrown at the problem will fix it. Just flip the damn switch already and deal with the small percentage of folks negatively affected. Seriously, this has been in the works for years -- if you don't know about it by now, you won't until your picture turns to a bunch of static.

colossal failure of broadcast media (3, Insightful)

pikine (771084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677879)

I wonder why don't TV stations show an overlay banner saying "This station is available on digital channel ##. The analog channel will be discontinued at DATE. Please contact your local electronics store for how to receive digital broadcast."

Having people who watch analog TV suddenly go blank without knowing they should switch to digital, that is the colossal failure of broadcast media that can't disseminate information to their audience.

Re:colossal failure of broadcast media (1)

Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677969)

The stations around here have all been covering the changeover as news stories for months now, including explaining what to do to be able to keep watching. I assume it's the same elsewhere.

Overlay banners are annoying. Especially if they would run 24x7

Re:colossal failure of broadcast media (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678267)

I know people who never watch the news on TV, only their favorite shows. The overlay banners will only be shown on analog channel, so while annoying, I think this is a fair thing to do. Once you take action, the annoyance goes away.

Re:colossal failure of broadcast media (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678323)

No, no, they can't do that, they're too busy showing ads for Pepsi or the next reality show or their own translucent logo in the lower right corner of the broadcasts. There's no room for anything that's actually helpful.

this is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677473)

I can't stand when this shit happens. What a waste of time! After that date no doubt they'll delay it yet again. I'm also one that doesn't watch (and can't stand to watch) television.

The propaganda tools must be fully in place for a transition it seems. Without TV where's your Orwellian scenario of "big brother" telling you what to do and what's important?

Total bullshit at the highest level!

Think about it, when it's raining outside, without the TV people wouldn't know what to do. Thank god the weather man tells them to bring an umbrella! Otherwise the people would get wet, or god forbid have to think for themselves. The Gov't doesn't want that you see.

Why???!?? (4, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677485)

What the fuck is the point of this? That spectrum has a new use which is only getting delayed yet again because of this. Why are they delaying? Its not like TV is something that you can't live without. And if you still haven't figured out that you need to upgrade your TV then either you: A) don't have a brain B) are senile and will probably never get the point C) rarely use your TV so it doesn't matter anyway. If they do this stupid delay I hope they at least make the analog required to just display 24/7 a text message stating that they need a digital TV or converter box with audio of a person reading it it in English and Spanish. Maybe then the last of the morons might get it.

Re:Why???!?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677531)

But where do I get these CONVERTER BOXES?

Re:Why???!?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677557)

Or D) applied for their coupon months ago and received it only to have it expired the same week.

Re:Why???!?? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678405)

That spectrum has a new use which is only getting delayed yet again because of this. Why are they delaying?

Which is likely to cost plenty of people money they can't afford.

Its not like TV is something that you can't live without.

Anyone who really can't can probably scrape enough money together to buy a converter box. No doubt every TV "repairman" has made sure they have plenty to hand for that weekend :)

If you don't like it... (3, Insightful)

shadoelord (163710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677487)

then please be sure to write your congressman and let them know. It was narrowly defeated last time, so the more people complaining the better chance it will be defeated again.

Re:If you don't like it... (2, Insightful)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677645)

The real solution is to stop voting for incumbents. Nothing's going to change until we get rid of career politicians.

Re:If you don't like it... (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677813)

>The real solution is to stop voting for incumbents. Nothing's
>going to change until we get rid of career politicians.

We tried that in 1996. It did not work very well.

Re:If you don't like it... (3, Interesting)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678029)

The real solution is to stop voting for incumbents. Nothing's going to change until we get rid of career politicians.

If they got to Congress, they already are career politicians.

Re:If you don't like it... (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678373)

And for those of us who like our incumbents? It's not like they were elected last time because everyone disliked them so much.

Change for the sake of change isn't helpful, and it's not going to fix much of anything.

The people already spoke, drop the issue please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677495)

And maybe work on the economy. Kthx

Eat more chikin' (1)

sambira (169347) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677511)

Makes me wonder what is being tied to this bill that makes legislators want to postpone or "phase in" the conversion to DTV.

Re:Eat more chikin' (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677681)

As it turns out, nothing. [loc.gov]

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677521)

TV stations around the country could choose when they wanted to make the change, allowing those who have already begun plans to stop analog transmission to continue their shut-down operations.

Are you seriously saying that the previous legislation prohibited any channels from switching to digital any earlier than absolutely required? WHY ???

Death of Broadcast Television (5, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677529)

After seeing enough reports on the switch on TV, my wife who hates computers, asked me last night "Can you find the shows I watch online?" After we found them, she then said "What do we need the TV for?" And that is the big question.

My kids haven't watched TV, other than something in a restaurant or doctor's waiting room, in a couple years now. They watch everything online. Of the three shows my wife watches, two are available online at the network sites and the third can be found via torrents. Actually, all three are available on the network sites, it is just ABC USES SOME FUCKING PROPRIETARY PLAYER THAT DOESN'T WORK ON LINUX! Thus, we either live without that show (no big deal) or hit Pirate Bay. ABC, are you listening? Just use a standard Flash player like everyone else.

While some of the people still watching broadcast TV don't have broadband, most of those fall into the "old people -- gonna die soon" demographic. What happens to broadcast in 10 years?

Re:Death of Broadcast Television (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677795)

After we found them, she then said "What do we need the TV for?" And that is the big question.

Well, good for her. I also prefer torrents to TV, but not all TV shows are available on TPB (or other trackers). While some of them are available at the national TV site, they are in such poor quality that makes VHS look like HD compared to the online version. So I record those shows to VHS. By the way, I o not live in the US.

Re:Death of Broadcast Television (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677817)

While some of the people still watching broadcast TV don't have broadband, most of those fall into the "old people -- gonna die soon" demographic.

ABC USES SOME FUCKING PROPRIETARY PLAYER THAT DOESN'T WORK ON LINUX!

I think the group of people that miss out on ABC because they use Linux may be smaller than the number that would miss out on ABC because they didn't get a tuner box yet.

Linux users are in such a small demographic, I doubt any major media company would miss them, it's still too small of a niche.

Re:Death of Broadcast Television (1)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678195)

Yeah, but I bitched none-the-less. :-)

I was just pointing out that both CBS and NBC seem to use a standard Flash player and I didn't have these issues with their competitors. I'll happily do without ABC.

Re:Death of Broadcast Television (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677825)

I don't watch *any* "shows". They are all BAD (in the Fussell sense). However, the one thing that many people love is LIVE SPORTS! Yes, I know about TvAnts, etc, but until there's a legal way to watch Federer vs. Nadal, the Superbowl, or your favorite baseball team on the internet, TV is staying around.

Re:Death of Broadcast Television (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678353)

I'm 28, technologically savvy and I watch free, broadcast TV. Because I refuse to pay for the crap they're offering these days. If there's nothing on... I know that I'm not pay $60/m for it.

I predicted this years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677541)

Years ago, when Feb 2009 was a distant point in the future, I told anyone who would listen that before the actual date occured, the politicians would get cold feet and become extremely scared about their next election vote when Joe Sixpack loses his analog TV signal.

And look what is happening. Just as Joe Sixpack is about to lose his analog TV signal, the politicians are getting cold feet and becoming extremely scared that they just might not get reelected next election because of it, and are delaying.

What has surprised me is just how close they've let themselves get to the fire before panicing and running scared.

And, of course, the best thing for the country would be if Joe Sixpack lost his analog TV, and then responded by throwing out every single member of the House and Senate because of it. We'd be better of with a clean sweep of all the "old guard" from there.

Re:I predicted this years ago (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677779)

That's right. We should have made the switch today. What? No Superbowl!?!? Then every American would go to DC with a torch and pitchfork and we could see real change. People should know by now, nothing happens in America unless someone is going to profit. Simple as that.

Let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no (5, Insightful)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677545)

That should be the motto of our government. If the government sets a deadline, they should hold to it, instead of wasting time and tax dollars by pushing back the finish line. What's wrong with making a decision and sticking to it, if there is no quantified risk to continue?

Just ensure that the vouchers are getting out to the people who haven't received them already. The people can do the rest. If they procrastinate, then let them reap the benefits of procrastination.

Apologies if I sound troll.

No Real Surprise (1)

Shisouka (1424151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677549)

This isn't really much of a surprise. How long has this transition been in the works? And how many times has it been delayed so far?

So no more analog torrent files then? (3, Funny)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677555)

Or am I doing it wrong?

It's the Democrats who are doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677575)

The Republicans want to keep DTV on schedule.

Enjoy the "change" that you elected.

Re:It's the Democrats who are doing this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677629)

The Republicans want to keep DTV on schedule.

Enjoy the "change" that you elected.

I voted for Barack Obama, and he represents a different kind of politician.
He doesn't engage in Washington politics as usual.
He transcends the stink of the shit to the highest ranks of niggerdom.

Re:It's the Democrats who are doing this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677739)

Neither republicans nor democrats have anything to do with DTV any more or less than the other.

Way to spin things in a misleading fashion, anon.

The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (5, Interesting)

Captain Digital (908427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677603)

This from the party of "Green" everything? Here's the REAL story...a buddy of mine (who's dad is the chief engineer at an Amarillo, Texas TV station) tells me that it costs about $10,000 per month in electricity to run a transmitter. That's ONE transmitter - for either analog or digital. When you add a second transmitter, you double the juice, and double the cost. Same data. Same shows. Same commercials - just costs twice as much to air it. Now figure that there are over 300 local TV stations in the US. Delay the transition until June, and you're talking over $12,000,000 in wasted money (that the stations can't bill anybody for) and wasted electricity. How many friggin' mercury-filled florescent lightbulbs and carbon offsets will it take to make up for that kind of waste, hmm? While we're on the subject, how many people in the US don't have either cable or satellite TV? Seriously...I've asked as many low-income people I know or run into, and I've yet to find ANYbody that gets their TV through rabbit ears or a roof antenna. Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy the handful of Luddites new TVs and be done with it?

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677669)

Nevermind the greenies. How many station owners are going to be selling out because they just can't afford to be burning money?

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677725)

Sounds like a good reason for the station owners to kill their analog towers on schedule.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677787)

There are 210 local markets in the country. Each market has at least three [3] full power stations (many have ten [10] or more). That's a lot more than 300.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677851)

Read the story again. Stations can switch over any time they want during the 4 month period. Have all your ducks in a row and don't want to waste money? Go ahead and switch.

One of the local stations is switching to new frequencies and a new tower and had some delays getting all the new equipment they were buying. Now they've got it but they can't get it installed at the moment because it's the middle of the freaking winter here, and installing new equipment outside is a PITA when a foot of new snow fell in the past couple days.

Giving the 4 month window allows my local station to wait a few weeks for a window of good weather in the forcast to get all the new equipment set up easily and safely for their workers. If they want to delay a few weeks for ease and safety, letting them sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

That's the REAL story.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677933)

Calm down, kiddies. The grownups are in charge now, and they know best.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678083)

It's not double.

The power requirements of digital transmitters are much lower then their respective analogue transmitters. Looks like in the exchange of information you missed some details. It also sounds like a lower power transmitter since the last largest transmitter I worked with was about 25k/month.

Interestingly enough, our distribution was 90% terrestrial with direct feeds to all distribution channels in the area. That means we literally only lost 10% of our audience when the analogue went down.

I know several stations who want to flip the switch now simply because of the savings. Had the FCC let us we would have killed it a long time ago.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678145)

That has been my experience with low income people as well.. They are either so attached to the low quality media on cable that they are willing to pay for it or don't understand the value of money. I know alot more middle class people who earn a good salary and certainly could divert a little money from savings to cable and choose not to do so.

Re:The REAL cost of delaying the switch. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678365)

This from the party of "Green" everything? Here's the REAL story...a buddy of mine (who's dad is the chief engineer at an Amarillo, Texas TV station) tells me that it costs about $10,000 per month in electricity to run a transmitter. That's ONE transmitter - for either analog or digital. When you add a second transmitter, you double the juice, and double the cost.

It's even worst that than that since with digital you can have several "stations" on one "channel". Which you'd think would keep the "greenies" happy both with using less power and putting out less RF energy :)

It won't matter how long it's delayed. (1, Insightful)

crawdad62 (308893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677619)

You could delay the transition and it won't matter there's still going to be people that are caught unprepared. That's just human nature.

The only thing this adds to the situation is more confusion.

They should switch off analog today. (1, Interesting)

alflauren (1124651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677809)

It might create enough productivity in the economy that we don't need the bloated stimulus bill.

For the people out in the boondocks (1)

velcroman270 (1436569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677815)

We are "prepared" for this switch over...at first we bought the stupid converter boxes...didnt work...we lost most of our channels. So the we got an new HDTVS (for other reasons *coughxbox360cough*) and still couldn't get our fav channels. We did some research and being 60 miles away for the transmission towers kinda kills the beauty of DTV. Some where in between us and the tower...is ONE TREE...kills most of the signals. The other thing is that the stations aren't transmitting at the power needed to make DTV available to everyone. Fox 26 here in the Houston has the highest broadcasting power something like 26000 MHZ (?) while the rest are at like 200. Unless we switch to satellite, we wont be watching LOST very much more...

Re:For the people out in the boondocks (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678031)

I'm pretty sure LOST is all on the internet. A friend told me about it.

Re:For the people out in the boondocks (2, Insightful)

isdnip (49656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678205)

Some of the digital stations aren't yet at full power. But you might need an outdoor antenna. One tree doesn't usually do that much harm to TV signals (below 700 MHz).

The FCC's "map book" shows that the Houston DTV stations will have comparable, but not identical, coverage.
http://www.fcc.gov/dtv/markets/

Re:For the people out in the boondocks (1)

velcroman270 (1436569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678333)

all ready did all of that man..and i agree its probably a grain dryer or something of that nature...this is even with the outdoor antenna...properly pointed (a member of my family is a land surveyor so he helped us point it in the right direction)....i quote family guy "the freaking FCC" its one of those govt things where it just has to say it on paper...not acutally work...wait..thats more like a school district. i will believe that map when i see it...

Re:For the people out in the boondocks (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678211)

Yeah, DTV is absolutely terrible quality compared to analog for anyone who lives more than a couple dozen miles from the tower. With analog, if the signal was weak, you got some white noise over the picture and sound, but it was still totally watchable. With DTV, all you get is a black screen. It is utterly unusable. As soon as the switch happens, I won't be able to watch my local news ever again. *sigh*

A waste of effort. (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677827)

It just kills me that the Obama administration has chosen this issue to be one to focus on. Television? I watch it, I don't have a problem with it. I'm not one of those people who triumphantly claim they don't watch television as if it makes them smarter.

But let's get real here. Television just isn't all that important, especially compared to say... health care, the economy, energy, torture, "the terrorists", North Korea, Putin, Russia, global warming, the housing crisis, Israel/Palestinian, New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Melamine, Salmonella, Gitmo, domestic spying, illegal immigration, crumbling infra-structure, and a host of other issues I'd rather just forget about. Each of those expands into a whole different set of problems, and they all interact with one another.

But.. the television switchover that's been going on in some fashion for the last 10 years is one of the FIRST issues the administration has chosen to take on. Why? I have my suspicions, mostly about Democrats being in bed with Big Content (hey, whenever you refer to Big it's bad.. right?).

The justification is just bizarre. The poor and technically inept might be without TV for a little while. I know around here we like to brow-beat anyone that's "stupid", or a technophile as if they deserve what they get. I'm not a big believer in that, but I am a believer in priorities. The people who television is THAT important to have gotten a converter. The people remaining might just have to go without for a while until they decide it's a priority. But yet this whole thing gets sold to us like it's an essential element to survival. Just yesterday I saw an ad from a local broadcaster urging people to "help their neighbors" in making sure they can get the digital broadcast, as if a hurricane has torn down houses, or a snowstorm has buried everyone in snow. This isn't a disaster... It's just television.

Re:A waste of effort. (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677949)

But Television is today's form of circuses. It keeps the general unwashed masses happy, entertained, and more worried about what happened on Idol as apposed to people worrying or taking an interest in health care, the economy, energy, torture, "the terrorists", North Korea, Putin, Russia, global warming et. al.

 

Re:A waste of effort. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677993)

Why waste your effort blaming the Obama administration for focusing on an issue that was left on their plate. The transition deadline was set before Obama was elected president and now they are just having to deal with the deadline. While you may have a point that Television isn't as critical as some of the other issues you listed, it is conceivable that the administration can do more than one thing at a time. One could also point out that a lot of people get their news from TV so to them it is important. I don't think they should delay the transition for the simple reason that there's going to be pain regardless and delays won't eliminate that. I also like the dig you threw in about Democrats. As if only democrats are behind this issue.

Re:A waste of effort. (2)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678131)

A lot of people depend on tv for news so in a disaster it could be crucial information, though I will point out that there's radio as well in such an incident. But more relevant to the everyday, the tv is a source of news in the home and considering that most people are more visually oriented, tv is a better medium than the radio for most information.

And yes, there do exist places where there is no broadband and with the recession, some newspapers have decided to cut off delivery service so that people can't even get a deadtree newspaper in my town anymore. /rant

Re:A waste of effort. (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678149)

health care, the economy, energy, torture, "the terrorists", North Korea, Putin, Russia, global warming, the housing crisis, Israel/Palestinian, New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Melamine, Salmonella, Gitmo, domestic spying, illegal immigration, crumbling infra-structure, and a host of other issues I'd rather just forget about.

The problem of course being that television affects many millions of Americans every day, while torture and Putin don't really affect anything that happens in a normal day for those same people.

Re:A waste of effort. (1)

theodicey (662941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678197)

How is "The Senate" = "The Obama Administration"?

Obama is doing almost nothing about this bill, although I don't think he would veto it.

Individual Representatives and Senators, who are very concerned with elderly people who have nothing to do but watch TV and vote, are driving pretty much the whole thing.

Re:A waste of effort. (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678215)

It just kills me that the Obama administration has chosen this issue to be one to focus on.

Just because Obama supports the delay doesn't mean it's either his or his administration's focus.

What is the problem? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677853)

Can someone explain for non US residents what the problem is? In the UK, I can buy a digital receiver for £20 in my local supermarket, which plugs into any TV with a SCART socket (any newer TV with HDMI really ought to have a digital receiver built-int). For a bit more, you get a digital receiver with harddisk recorder. Quality is close to DVD, five times more programs available, so there is no need for subsidies. The only problem is when your reception is bad, because the digital TV quality in that case is either perfect or rubbish, nothing in between.

Re:What is the problem? (4, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677971)

Our big friendly goverment decided to give away the boxes you reference, FOR FREE. They did this by issuing coupons worth $50 or so IIRC. Like most things given away by the government for free, lots of people who didn't need them got two or three of these boxes and stuck them on a shelf in their garage, where they're still collecting dust. Of course, the coupons ran out, and now some in our congress are claiming that the program was underfunded. It's a typical Washington clusterfuck -- exactly the sort of thing that happens when bureaucrats decide there's a huge "problem" somewhere and its solution requires spending tens of millions of our tax dollars.

Re:What is the problem? (5, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678049)

Can someone explain for non US residents what the problem is?

The problem is that when Abraham Lincoln and Jesse Helms wrote the constitution, they made it a right for the American people to have television. Now, 350 years later, congress changed the way TV has always been delivered - from an anolog microsft tower in Denver to a newer more technologically advanced 60 watt digital station located in Southern Pennsylvania.

The confusion has resulted in NASCAR cancelling their season, resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue for Bud Light (a subsidiary of the Coors Brewing Company located in South Africa).

I hope that helps.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

w9wi (162482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678121)

I would venture a guess what triggered this was problems in the DTV coupon program [dtv2009.gov] .

This program offers each household up to two coupons. (in the form of cards, similar to a debit card) Each coupon could be redeemed for US$40 off the price of a digital receiver. Digital receivers are selling for around US$60-65.

The coupon program has more or less run out of money. "more or less" because they're finding many, many coupons are being ordered but never redeemed. They do have an expiration period. (90 days) I suppose the theory is that if the analog shutdown is delayed, more unused coupons will expire and more money will be available to issue more coupons and more viewers can use those coupons to get converted in time.

That said, most Americans are more than willing to pay more than $60 every month for cable or satellite service, it seems unlikely that a one time payment of $60 for a converter box is going to be a problem for most families.

(for those families for whom $60 is a problem, I have sympathy... although they really should have acted sooner...)

There is also some concern that viewers in some places are having trouble receiving all the channels they were getting in analog. Problem is, in many cases that's because:

The digital signals are suffering interference from analog transmitters.

Or, they're having to operate on reduced power to avoid interfering with analog service.

Or, the station plans to use its current analog antenna for its permanent digital service -- is currently on a lower interim antenna -- and of course cannot switch to full power until it can turn its analog transmitter off.

Of course delaying the analog shutdown only delays the delivery of a full digital signal to these viewers!

Cold turkey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677911)

As a viewer I mean.
Haven't had TV in my house since 2004. The internet's good, as are video games, and every show I'd want to see comes out on DVD rentals anyway.

The old bill allowed analogs off early too. (3, Informative)

w9wi (162482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678007)

The original bill [loc.gov] didn't require analog stations to stay on until June either.

(if the link breaks, try this PDF link [gpo.gov] )

See Sec. 4, paragraph (a) which states in part: "Nothing in this Act is intended to prevent a licensee of a television broadcast station from terminating the broadcasting of such station's analog television signal (and continuing to broadcast exclusively in the digital television service) prior to the date established by law under section 3002(b) of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 for termination of all licenses for full-power television stations in the analog television service (as amended by section 2 of this Act) so long as such prior termination is conducted in accordance with the Federal Communications Commission's requirements in effect on the date of enactment of this Act,.."

(typical government wordiness)

What it means is that before this bill was introduced, stations could sign off their analogs before Feb. 17th upon giving 30 days notice to the FCC and the viewers. Should the bill pass into law, paragraph (a) ensures they can still sign off before June 12th, again provided they give 30 days notice.

Several hundred stations have already given such notice. Including most of the major-network affiliates in Nashville, New Orleans, and Wichita among other cities.

The proposed new bill [loc.gov] (PDF version [gpo.gov] ) contains the same paragraph.

Bunch of Tubes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678069)

This only goes to show that Ted Stevens was not the only clueless member of Congress. Those old people are going to be confused beyond description if a "phased" transition is implemented. You would need to be living in a cave on Mars not to know about the transition, and if you can't come up with $40 to buy a box, or wait to get a coupon, then you have MUCH bigger problems than a dark TV.

The Other White Meat... (2, Insightful)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678089)

The Pork was lacking, so a message was sent and the bill failed. Hopefully the lobbyists and the authors of the next version get it right and grease all the palms sufficiently next time. There is NO way the US Guv is going to unplug a couple million baby-sitters and chance widespread formation of individual thoughts and consternation. Ain't gonna happen.

Simple Equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678257)

It's a simple equation: politicians + technology = clusterfuck

Get on with it for god's sake...flip the switch and deal with the fallout

February 17 or bust. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678301)

Enough already. The deadline is February 17 and that should be that. Hopefully the House will show better sense than the Senate and kill this bill as well.

This is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678331)

The Obama administration and the Democrats, the party of technology and net neutrality and open source, is doing this to help out their tv station buddies and cronies in certain telcoms. Trust a Democrat to be a corrupt crook. But they sure talk a good game, don't they?

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