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Confusion Reigns As Analog TV Begins Shutdown

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-not-to-do-it dept.

Television 434

As TV stations across the country switch off their analog signals, uncertainty reigns. Some 691 stations will have converted to digital broadcasting by midnight tonight (some interpreted the mandate as going digital by Feb. 17, not during Feb. 17, and shut down yesterday). This represents about a third of TV broadcasters nationwide. No one can say how many of the estimated 5.8 million households unready for the transition are in areas served by the stations that are switching now. The FCC added to the uncertainty by imposing extra conditions, making it unclear until last Friday exactly which stations would be switching at the beginning of the transition period. The article quotes a former analyst at Barclays Capital who said the whole process has been "botched politically."

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434 comments

Once again... BFD (4, Insightful)

javelinco (652113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894165)

Why the heck are we getting a story posted on this almost daily? Who cares? I've read the threads, and it's not a big deal. Anyone with half a brain will be fine. Anyone else, well, maybe there are survival of the fittest selection standards still hitting us, on occasion. I don't see that as a bad thing.

Re:Once again... BFD (2, Insightful)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894207)

I don't see why the deadline had to be pushed back any further. Even if it did, I don't see any reason why the deadline became a "dead-range". It should've been all-or-nothing, and that's what it was intended to be.

Re:Once again... BFD (5, Informative)

bcong (1125705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894321)

The idea behind pushing back the deadline was so that the current coupons(which were all given out) had time to expire. They could then create new coupons so people who missed out the first time could get a chance at a coupon, and thus their free converter. Or that's how I read it.

Re:Once again... BFD (3, Funny)

Who Is The Drizzle (1470385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894223)

But...but...but they might miss American Idol, The Bachelor or Dancing With The Stars!!!!

Re:Once again... BFD (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894355)

But...but...but they might miss American Idol, The Bachelor or Dancing With The Stars!!!!

You obviously missed the part where he said

Anyone with half a brain will be fine

Re:Once again... BFD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894977)

But...but...but they might miss American Idol, The Bachelor or Dancing With The Stars!!!!

Don't forget other timewasters like the local and national news (such as it is) and emergency communication (i.e. during a natural disaster or some such).

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895365)

Exactly, and that was explicitly stated by the administration as the reason. Most tv broadcasts are trite and unimportant; but there are the occasional broadcasts that are very, very, important.

Re:Once again... BFD (2, Informative)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894235)

Why the heck are we getting a story posted on this almost daily? Who cares?

WTF? This is like Y2K, except TV is actually important!

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894603)

What's TV?

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895197)

TV / ti vi abbrev for transvestite / transvestt; tranz-/ n. a person, typically a man, who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes appropriate to the opposite sex.

Re:Once again... BFD (2, Funny)

Niris (1443675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894583)

Survival of the fittest? Hrm. I find something funny in keeping a television signal in the home making someone more fit.

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894643)

That IS funny. But if those too stupid to figure this out LEAVE their couch, it might kill them! Thus, hopefully, removing them from the possible (and most likely accidental) gene pool!

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894587)

And then there are those of us who use cable and are unaffected anyway. Yep, our HDTVs will continue to get the crappy low-quality signal until we upgrade to Time Warner's "HD package"! Yay!

Re:Once again... BFD (1, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894917)

Are you surprised that you would have to pay more for a HD signal vs. the "crappy low-quality" signal you currently get? Were you also surprised that you had to pay more for a HDTV vs. a "crappy low-quality" TV?

Re:Once again... BFD (1)

tmbailey123 (230145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895253)

I have the basic analog cable pkg (Time Warner I think). We just purchased our first HDTV in Nov 08. I was pleasantly surprised to find the local network feeds, (CBS,NBC,FOX,ABC) were HDTV signals even over the coax cable. The other "cable" channels are still low def feeds.

Re:Once again... BFD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895235)

Survival of the fittest? Shoot, if only the people who can't figure out the TV switch actually would die out...unfortunately, the rest of us just get to hear them complain instead of watching them go extinct.

The confusion is part of the Stimulus (4, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894213)

This is designed to get people off of their couch and out shopping!

Re:The confusion is part of the Stimulus (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894483)

"This is designed to get people off of their couch and out shopping!"

But, most people don't have money to buy anything....

I do, however. I was at Sam's club the other day, and surprised to see one of the latest Samsung 52" LCD 120hz flatscreen tv's for like $1789 or thereabouts. Wow..that looked nice, and I need a nice tv for my bedroom. I'll hook it to my mythtv box I'm rebuilding.

Hey..speaking of mythtv, I've got a question. I'm currently renting, and wanting to go do the mythtv client server route in the house. I was at this point (renting) hoping to avoid running cat5 all over the place. Can wireless work fast enough now for a myth client server system? For HD content? I've got my server with a HDHomerun pulling QAM off the cable, and ATSC over the air...

I've been seeing dual channel wireless stations going for about $100...not sure what the cards cost. Would this be fast enough to stream content throughout the house? Do any of the dual channel cards work well with current linux drivers?

Re:The confusion is part of the Stimulus (2, Informative)

maino82 (851720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894719)

Hey..speaking of mythtv, I've got a question. I'm currently renting, and wanting to go do the mythtv client server route in the house. I was at this point (renting) hoping to avoid running cat5 all over the place. Can wireless work fast enough now for a myth client server system? For HD content? I've got my server with a HDHomerun pulling QAM off the cable, and ATSC over the air...

I used wireless for awhile on a little frontend box that was away from the master backend and it worked fine for SD content. When I switched out my tuner to HD though I started getting some stuttering and then broke down and just decided to figure out how to run a twisted pair to the box. I was using wireless G at the time... don't know if N would be good enough to eliminate the stuttering, but it's possible it might.

Re:The confusion is part of the Stimulus (2, Interesting)

PIBM (588930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894823)

I've tried a N router with a 2x2 link, in the 130mbps reported connection speed, and I still got random stutter with 1080p content, but not with 720p. It might have been environmental issues reducing the bandwidth available, but it's not acceptable anyway.

I ran 22 gb lines through my house :)

Re:The confusion is part of the Stimulus (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894809)

Yes, 54Mbps is plenty for a single HD stream. The maximum bit-rate allowed by the blu-ray standard is 40Mbits, which doesn't leave a whole lot of headroom, but even 1080p typical is usually more in the 20Mbps range.

Re:The confusion is part of the Stimulus (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894793)

This is designed to get people off of their couch and out shopping!

Well I was going to go stimulate the economy by getting a Huge HDTV.....now I don't see the point.

My biggest problem with all of this... (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894219)

As I have said time and time again, this has been a gigantic clusterfuck of enormous proportions.

1. The American public should have received a check (not a tax credit, not a credit card looking coupon, etc) for the total sale of the spectrum divided by every single citizen of this nation.

2. When the TV was moved to digital, it should have been better than what was offered before. Yes, the quality is better (when you can receive the signal) but most of the time (even with good equipment) the signal doesn't come in, you lose channels, and they randomly drop audio and video. At least with the old way, if it came in most of the way, I could still see and hear what was going on.

3. This was all unnecessary anyway. I don't care about opening up spectrum for other services when I am not directly benefiting in any way, shape or form by the change over. If you are seriously going to tell me that because I now have access to more channels, most of which rarely come in well after spending $20 on a box and $20+ more on rabbit ears or $40+ on a "HD" antenna, then you're wrong.

Boo on digital TV.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894339)

1. I disagree - the amount per person is too small. It would be like one of those $1.60 checks you get in the mail for some class action settlement you'd rather not have been a member of.

2 & 3. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. For me, I got only a few fuzzy channels before with severe ghosting and now I have all the major networks, crystal clear with only occasional drop-outs. I almost never turned on broadcast TV before, and now the picture is good enough to watch hockey. I guess this is very much a YMMV situation.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894429)

Good enough to watch hockey?! Does it come with a gun to the back of your head too?

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894621)

LOL. I happen to like hockey :)

I only used it as an example because it is one of the harder things to watch without a good picture.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894797)

1. I disagree - the amount per person is too small. It would be like one of those $1.60 checks you get in the mail for some class action settlement you'd rather not have been a member of.

Then they shouldn't have sold it. If they couldn't get enough to fully compensate the American people for their trouble, then they sold at a loss. If that's not a crime, it should be.

BTW, they got $19.592 billion [wikipedia.org] for the auction. The US population is about 305 million [census.gov] . That's $64.23 per person.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894395)

Many changes are not obviously beneficial when looked at during the initial period, but in the long run, you probably will get more out of it.

Think of this as the construction phase of the road, they still have some work to do before it's fully paved.

I agree. (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894563)

I'm in a spot were I'm at least 20 miles from any TV broadcast so nothing really comes in well - lots of the blocking, no sound and many times the "no signal" floating box. Oh, my microwave disrupts the TV signal.

Re:I agree. (2, Insightful)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894679)

I'm in a spot were I'm at least 20 miles from any TV broadcast so nothing really comes in well - lots of the blocking, no sound and many times the "no signal" floating box. Oh, my microwave disrupts the TV signal.

20 miles and you don't get a signal? You either have no concept of distance or you don't actually have an antenna.

Re:I agree. (2, Informative)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894769)

Indoor rabbit ears and UHF doesn't propagate as well as the longer wave lengths.

Just as well.There isn't much good on TV these days anyway. Even the PBS stuff is getting kind of shitty - they take an hour to show and explain things that can be done in 10 minutes. Also, some of the nature shows are so depressing: shows loss of habitat, people in Third World countries who believe that Tiger Penis soup will give them a hard-on (when it's their cigarette smoking causing their impotence), catching and slicing off shark fins and throwing the poor things back in the water, poisoning reefs to catch stuff for Western reef aquariums, etc... all stuff that I can't do a damn thing about.

Re:I agree. (3, Informative)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894739)

You stations may not be broadcasting full power yet. I believe they can go full power after today, or possibly that was delayed with the (optional) analog shutoff delay too.
(I think they may also change frequencies, but that's all automagically handled by the tuner.)

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894599)

The American public should have received a check (not a tax credit, not a credit card looking coupon, etc) for the total sale of the spectrum divided by every single citizen of this nation.

How about NO, it costs a hell of a lot of money to print and distribute checks, better they just not charge me as much or give me more back on my rebate check. The cost of the 2008 rebate checks was $84M, personally I'd rather they save that cost and use the money to feed more poor kids or something.

This was all unnecessary anyway. I don't care about opening up spectrum for other services when I am not directly benefiting in any way, shape or form by the change over.

How about if your life gets save because first responders are able to talk to one another, is that good enough for you?

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894605)

I don't care about opening up spectrum for other services when I am not directly benefiting in any way, shape or form

Yes, but the rest of us as a whole are. And no one cares about you anyway: you don't matter.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894631)

There's no such thing as a "HD" antenna.

So you think that you'll never need the help from emergency workers? Communication between them is one of the things for which the spectrum is being used.

(I definitely agree with you about the "analog degrades gracefully" part. The convenience factor of DVDs is largely what I prefer. Though of course since you have the media, you see fewer dropouts compared to OTA.)

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (5, Informative)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894701)

2. When the TV was moved to digital, it should have been better than what was offered before. Yes, the quality is better (when you can receive the signal) but most of the time (even with good equipment) the signal doesn't come in, you lose channels, and they randomly drop audio and video. At least with the old way, if it came in most of the way, I could still see and hear what was going on.

This is the killer for me. Digital TV does not degrade gracefully. You can't get a low-res substitute if your signal starts going badly. And the use of 8VSB modulation means that stations *theoretically* can cover more distance with less power than COFDM, but it also means moving receivers are out of the question (goodbye Sony Watchman and car TV) and multipath interference (common in cities) can keep receivers from working properly.

In the 50's and 60's, they were able to upgrade to color TV without breaking compatibility with existing black and white sets. Today, they broke compatibility and they've failed to offer enough to justify it.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895337)

Today, they broke compatibility and they've failed to offer enough to justify it.

I disagree. The UHF spectrum was simply to valuable for society to continue to allow a few analog TV holdouts to continue squatting on some of the most valuable parts of the EM spectrum for free or minimal cost. Part of the reason why wireless services in the United States are so behind Europe, Japan, and even China is because there are lots of legacy squatters occupying prime pieces of EM spectrum real estate for peanut change. The EM spectrum rights should go to whomever is willing to pay the public the most for them, and nowadays that is wireless telecom companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint/Nextel not grandma with her Philco black and white analog TV that she has not upgraded since 1964. if the remaining analog TV users wanted to continue using the UHF spectrum, preventing the rest of us who are willing to pay from getting next gen wireless services, then they should have bid against the telecoms in the auction. Analog TV lost because other uses are worth more to more people, plain and simple.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

stilz2 (878265) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895015)

I just help a friend, who has 10+ years old TV and antenna, set up the converter, and her family was amazed by how clear (not to mention watchable) the TV has become. OTOH, My family has one of those big antenna you stick in the attic, so reception wasn't much of an improvement for me, but the programming guide was a welcomed new feature. So, so far, the DTV transition has been a good experience.

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

Scyber (539694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895291)

2. When the TV was moved to digital, it should have been better than what was offered before. Yes, the quality is better (when you can receive the signal) but most of the time (even with good equipment) the signal doesn't come in, you lose channels, and they randomly drop audio and video. At least with the old way, if it came in most of the way, I could still see and hear what was going on.

Its my understanding that some digital broadcasts are currently limited in power to prevent interference with digital broadcasts. Once the digital transition is complete, they will be able to up the power to the towers and reception should improve. I don't know how many stations that currently applies to, but it should help reception in some cases. I'd presume that it would be more common in areas that have more stations broadcasting (in between multiple major cites, etc.).

Re:My biggest problem with all of this... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895321)

Um, you do realize that dtv hasn't been broadcast at full power, right? It does depend upon where you live, but around here, I get more channels now that we're doing dtv than I could reasonably get with the older signals. Plus they're all watchable, which is a plus over cable.

Starting today stations will start to broadcast their full power and we'll begin to get a better picture of what's going on.

When things are all turned on to full power, then we'll see whether or not it's working. But it's quite difficult to know that based upon the trial offerings.

Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894225)

So some poor people won't get to watch their "stories". They should be looking for work anyway.

Revolt (5, Funny)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894239)

Frankly, I see something like this - the disruption of TV - as one of very few events that could get people off their butts to do something about their government. Spy on their phone calls? Eh... Take away their American Idol? Riot in the streets.

Re:Revolt (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894507)

Good point. Americans are likely to get extremely angry when [1] they can't watch TV, and [2] the price of gas breaks a psychological barrier, like $2. The problems?

- What percentage of Americans receive their TV over the air?

- Congress is currently experiencing approval ratings rivaling David Duke at the Million Man March, yet over 90% of the current Congress was re-elected. I voted 100% anti-incumbent this fall, and maybe Americans should wake the freak up and stop just voting party lines. Congress is well aware of this: they can do anything [and I mean, ANYTHING], and they WILL get re-elected.

Re:Revolt (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894525)

Yeah, but imagine if this cut off TV AND backed up traffic. There'd be mobs with torches and pitchforks.

Re:Revolt (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894791)

Don't worry. If it DOES finally get people off their fat asses (mine included), they'll probably die of a coronary before they can do anything with their "rage". It's hard to riot when you get winded walking to the damn fridge.

Cable Guy Reference... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894331)

At the end of Jim Carrey's movie, The Cable Guy; all local TV is knocked out... and people start to find enjoyment by reading books, sitting down to dinner together and doing activities besides TV...

You will NOT die if you don't watch Wheel of Fortune or your favorite soap opera...

Re:Cable Guy Reference... (4, Funny)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894765)

I don't know...the rate of people who abruptly stop watching TV the day they die is alarmingly high. I'm not ready to take that risk.

I managed to survive 10 years without a TV... (1)

bfwebster (90513) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894337)

...somehow I think our society will survive the demise of analog TV broadcasting. In fact, it might actually be improved thereby.

ObDisc: I currently have satellite TV and a large-screen HD TV. On the other hand, I watch very little TV -- maybe 2-3 shows/week, if that much. Most of the rest of the time, I have one of the 24-hour cable news channels on and the sound off -- sort of a big-screen RSS feed in my living room. ..bruce..

Re:I managed to survive 10 years without a TV... (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894519)

I currently have satellite TV and a large-screen HD TV. On the other hand, I watch very little TV -- maybe 2-3 shows/week, if that much.

Sounds like a waste of money. You should cancel the satellite and just rent from Amazon.

Re:I managed to survive 10 years without a TV... (2, Funny)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894967)

You sure the waste of money isn't that he is running a 50-inch rss-reader in his living room?

Why keep pushing back the deadline (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894375)

If grandma hasn't upgraded the old Philco black & white by now, she probably never will (until forced). As for the coupons, there was no reason they couldn't have extended the coupon program but still kept the original timeline.

Re:Why keep pushing back the deadline (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894617)

Because Obama's advisor for the DTV transition works for a company that benefits from the delay. Until that chunk of the spectrum becomes available to the people who paid for it (mainly Verizon & AT&T), his company has less competition.

Across the country? (3, Funny)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894387)

"Across the country" Which country? My analog TV here in the UK is still working fine.

Re:Across the country? (2, Funny)

Curtman (556920) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894551)

My analog TV here in the UK is still working fine.

All is well with my TV in Canada as well.. Hoorah for the commonwealth. :)

Re:Across the country? (2, Informative)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894863)

Germany already switched to digital TV between 2002 and 2008. Austria did this betweenn 2006 and 2007. And in Switzerland the switch was done in 2007. And I don't see why this is a big deal. If there's something which is a clusterfuck, it's analog TV transmission techology.

Re:Across the country? (1)

FingerSoup (928761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895079)

Just wait until August 31, 2011. That's when Canada switches over...

Likewise, The US switch affects border towns. I'm sure there's a lot of people south of Toronto, that can't get FOX through their antenna anymore.

In Fact, Canada has no proposed coupon/Digital TV upgrade offer. Canadians pay full price for the box, and that's the end of it... So, thanks to the US transition not being in sync with the Canadian Transition, Canadians are affected twice. BOHICA

Re:Across the country? (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894693)

Well, since you're reading the news on an American website, and news of the digital TV switch has been all over American news for years, simple deductive reasoning would lead you to believe the country they're talking about is obviously Uzbekistan.

Re:Across the country? (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894883)

Well, since you're reading the news on an American website(...)

Hmm... People love to write that, but where did you get the information the site is U.S.-only?
The Slashdot's first-level domain is not a .us, neither I see the main page stating the site's scope is not world-wide.

Re:Across the country? (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895035)

It's pretty clearly stated in the FAQ [slashdot.org]

Re:Across the country? (1)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895213)

Having read the FAQ, I found out that not only is this a US centric web site, but more interestingly..... There is a Japanese version of slashdot, slashdot.jp. How cool is that - I think shashdot looks funkier in Japanese! Am I the only one who did not know this?

Re:Across the country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895221)

What do you mean, it's an American website? Here I am, sitting in Kansis, you know, where the Kentucky Derby is run, which is part of the USA and not America! And we're been forced to switch too! Stupid Americans, I wish they'd go back to New Mexico where they belong!

Re:Across the country? (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894987)

Actually, a few bits of the UK have switched to digital only the switchover starter last year, but so far it's basicaly one main transmitter (Selkirk and it's relays in the Border region) and a couple of relays as that switched as tests (Ferryside in Wales, and Whitehaven in the Border region) that have switched as of now. Everywhere in the UK will be digital by the end of 2012.

most are the elderly many alone and without family (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894417)

and television is pretty much their only outlet

now they are cut off from the world, and utterly devoid of understanding why television went away or how to get their television back

yes, they have been broadcasting infomercials about the transition for months. but you are talking about people set in their ways, with brittle minds, who wouldn't even conceive of the infomercials as having to do with them

of course the transition should happen, and you can't avoid people getting lost in the transition, but it's still sad

a bunch of old people are utterly adrift from their daily routine today, and they have no clue why

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (1)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894589)

Six years to prepare, advertisements all over TV; if these old codgers are too "set in their ways," then I suppose a rude awakening is in order.

Of course, there is always the old Victrola (you know, the old Talking Machine,) or RCA set which could still bring hours of enjoyment.

I do agree, however, that it is sad that there are some out there who are disparate from reality and do not have anyone to take care of them. They will get lost in the TV transition, but the world will not end.

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894713)

If only there were some way to, you know, advertise the change in advance? Perhaps some sort of announcement to the public would serve the purpose? A form of public service announcement?

Wait, what are all these commercials with a TV in the middle of a swimming pool all about?

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894717)

"now they are cut off from the world, and utterly devoid of understanding why television went away or how to get their television back"

Are you saying the elderly don't listen to Radio? Considering I get news about this on CANADIAN Radio, I would expect that someone, SOMEHOW, made mention to it on those talk shows I see most of the elderly folks listening to.

I need to find out how to filter stories better on slashdot... this constant whining drivel about the "Holy TV" going away from the south is getting annoying.

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894767)

Why didn't they just switch every channel to a screensaver type message explaining the basics of the switchover and giving a helpline number for more info?

I'm sure 48 hours with that on every channel before they're turned off would've been relatively cheap and easy, and I don't think anyone could possibly have claimed not to have heard/understood then.

(Maybe they did, I guess, but I don't get that impression from the coverage I've seen)

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (5, Insightful)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894837)

If people haven't heard what to do then they're not watching enough tv. They've had plenty of test blackouts scheduled with numbers to call if they are not receiving a digital signal.

My 90 year old grandmother was ready 6 months ago. She watches the least amount of TV of anybody I know. I really don't think it's old people that aren't setup.

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (0, Troll)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894965)

EEEEEE, HEHEHEHE, I DooDoo'd in my dydee!

Do I eat in my room? where's my violin? Lotta work isn't it? got a union?

Can't see the TV, must be the Fu-Manchu! Cranked the Phone and the Keystone operator didn't come on the party line, I'll harness up the buckboard and drive into town and see what's wrong!

Re:most are the elderly many alone and without fam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895217)

So no only do you want me to "think of the childern" but now I have to "think of the elderly" too?

Where is Darwin when you need him?

Look at the bright side! (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894487)

Although I was opposed to this delay let's look at what will occur as a result of PARTIAL digital conversion. Joe Sixpack has been oblivious to the conversion (even now). Partial conversion will mean that a few, but not all, of his favorite channels not be broadcasting in analog. He might now be convinced that it's time to do something. The downside it that he will probably complain to his Congress critters instead of getting a converter box. At least now he will be aware.

so what? (2, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894547)

I can't be the only one who just bought a DLP projector, hooked it up to an old computer, and configured it to boot to Hulu.com. With a bluetooth mouse, that's video on demand and zero need to get over-the-air broadcasts.

Re:so what? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894751)

I can't be the only one who just bought a DLP projector, hooked it up to an old computer, and configured it to boot to Hulu.com. With a bluetooth mouse, that's video on demand and zero need to get over-the-air broadcasts.

Got you one better. I didn't want a computer sitting in my living room so I'm using a PS3 with a Playon Media Server running in another room.

Re:so what? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894833)

Yeah, but you have to watch the commercials on Hulu. With a DVR, you can record OTA (or cable or satellite) and FF through the commercials. (You could record Hulu and then play it back later, but I suspect few bother. I have thought of doing it when I've missed an episode a few times.. I just ended up waiting until the episode was run again (cable shows that rerun often).)

You think you've got it bad â¦. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894601)

Think five months for the transition is causing confusion? Try five years: the UK is in the process of doing exactly that. It started in 2007 and will not finish until 2012. In addition another, incompatible, type of digital TV will start to be rolled out from next year at the same time.

Once Again... (2, Informative)

acrobg (1175095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894613)

If you do not get your broadcasts over the air (ie you use cable, satellite, U-verse, Verizon, etc.), you are unaffected, period. If you have a television that has a decimal point or a hyphen on your remote in the numbers area (on the remote that came with the TV), you are fine. In this case, you may need to start entering stations in other ways, such as 11.1 as opposed to 11. The ONLY time you need to get a converter box is if you have an analog-only tuner in your television, as most 4:3 tube televisions have, AND you receive your television via antenna.

Amusing Ourselves to Death (1)

Niris (1443675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894741)

This article just seems fitting for posting about this book I read for shits and giggles once. Also had a suggestion of taking a week off the computer, away from tv, no music, nothing electronic whatsoever (aside from the unavoidable, like work, but if you're into the idea you won't go looking at /. at work *evil*) Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Pretty interesting.

Wait, let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894807)

I *wasn't* supposed to turn my TV into a fish tank today? Huh?

Name any intersection of politics and tech... (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894921)

... that WASN'T "botched politically."

Politics are to technology as sugar in the gas tank is to a Lamborghini Countach. The tech might run for a little while, but not the way it's supposed to.

And so begins the war of the two kings (5, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894963)

Confusion Reigns As Analog TV Begins Shutdown

But also

As TV stations across the country switch off their analog signals, uncertainty reigns.

Confusion. Uncertainty. Who reigns, and who is merely the figurehead, its strings pulled by the other?

Personally, I vote (yeah right, as though we get to vote on this) for Confusion to reign. It evokes images of people running around with their hands up in the air, yelling hysterically. A Reign of Uncertainly merely makes me think of people grimacing, with their eyes darting back and forth.

Botched politically is right (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894983)

When you do something like this, you do it so only a small number of end-users will be affected.

With TV, this means if more than a few hundred thousand customers will have to buy a converter box or begin subscribing to pay TV, it's too many. If more than a few tens of thousands have to buy a high-gain antenna or switch to a pay service, that's too many.

How it coulda/shoulda been done:
*Require all devices with analog tuners to advertise "not digitally compatible" starting shortly after the rules were written.
*Have a very long delay, probably 10+ years, before analog-only tuners and TVs are made and the analog spectrum is turned off. This puts the "planned" back in "planned obsolescence." Only allow exceptions for items which are not designed to last a long time. In the case of TV tuners, I can't think of any.
*Provide for people who still have old equipment and cannot reasonably afford replacement equipment, provide a way to buy a device that gives them basic functionality without requiring a subscription service. Subsidize this out of funds paid for by industry.

This phasein was entirely too short. You could still buy analog-only computer tuners as recently as a year or two ago and small televisions only a few years before that.

Even my mother is ready (1)

mdrplg (680070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895037)

My 89 year old mother, who won't even say the word computer, is ready for the switch. I know, I know, anecdotal, I'm sure there are maybe dozens of people who will go to turn on their TVs and not get a signal and wonder, "Hey, this is supposed to be Dancing with the Stars?!" Seriously. The only people I have had any experience with that are confused about the process are the government and the politicians. Does that surprise me? NO! If the hype is to be believed there should be well over 1 in 100 that are not ready. Are YOU not ready? Where are you? Maybe if the stupidest of people don't get a converter box then there will be better programming on the TV.

Re:Even my mother is ready (1)

Quest4RelativeTruth (1473873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895103)

Getting a converter box has been on my to do list for a while, but the truth is I really don't care about TV. I have my favourite shows on DVD (which is cheaper than cable), and can't remember the last time I watched TV.

Am I the only one... (1)

YellowMatterCustard (1277360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895081)

who doesn't care about TV anymore? I don't even own one of the damn things; I watch DVDs on one of my computers (mostly old shows and movies). Anything else I look up online (Hulu, etc.) Way better to see a few 10-30 second ads than sit through the average, bothersome, unnecessarily long commercial breaks. Maybe I just figured out that there are better ways to spend time (as I post on Slashdot =P).

And which of the citizens was consulted... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895085)

It's all very well moving into the brave new world of digital television but just how many citizens actually asked for it to happen? A small minority I suspect.

The point is, the whole change over was driven by corporate greed. Technical changes drive transactions and each transaction is an opportunity to fleece the customer.

The population would have been perfectly happy with the old technology if the new technology hadn't been foisted on them.

I watched two of my local ones blink out (5, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895143)

...it was actually kind of entertaining. The station that stopped last night had some fun and went old-school. They announced the end of the broadcast day (for good), played the national anthem over patriotic images of the flag.

After that, they put up the old Indian Head test pattern and audio tone for a couple of minutes. At the stroke of midnight, it cut to static. It was just like nightly sign-offs when I was a little kid, and it almost made me misty-eyed.

The one that went out this afternoon showed a bunch of snippets from the past 50 years, then they showed a live coverage of one of their engineers out in the transmitter shack pushing the "OFF" button. The instant cut to static was good for a laugh.

Oh the humanity! (1)

molotovjester (1273662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895179)

Oh the humanity! And everyone is screaming! Their friend (the TV) is out! I might have to talk to people! Honest! My TV's just sitting there! What to do?!

RTFA??? (1)

highfidelitychris (1448915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895267)

The article states 641 stations are shutting off, but the summary incorrectly states 691. That it doesn't say is if I should get my pitchfork and torch out.
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