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Digital TV Coupon Program Under Way Again

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the flushing-money-down-a-digital-toilet dept.

Television 147

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from CNet: "Federal regulators said Thursday they are going into 'search and rescue' mode to help the millions of consumers unprepared for the phased transition to digital television, which culminates with the June 12 transition deadline. The millions of consumers waiting for coupons for digital converter box coupons will finally receive them within the next two and a half weeks, thanks to emergency funding for the coupon program provided in the stimulus package, said Bernadette McGuire-Rivera, an administrator for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The NTIA is also ratcheting up its outreach to consumers most likely to be unprepared for the transition... FCC commissioners said their agency is also intensifying its outreach, but they acknowledged that while one third of television stations have already dropped their analog signals, the hardest part is yet to come." We previously discussed the DTV coupon program when it ran out of money in January. The $650 million from the stimulus packages adds to the $1.3 billion that's already been spent.

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Cause it worked so well before (2, Funny)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100793)

Spend more money to make more money, right?

Re:Cause it worked so well before (1)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101229)

That's totally on topic. They're spending money on coupons to make money selling off the freed up frequencies.

Re:Cause it worked so well before (1)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102819)

That's totally on topic...

Whats the topic?!!!

People who already bought a converter (2, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100797)

So what happens with people that ended up paying full price for a converter because the coupons stopped flowing and 1/3 of the transition (which in many places was nearly a full transition) already happened? Can they just get $40 back with the coupon and their original paid-full-price receipt? Even if they got their full price converter at Circuit City?

Re:People who already bought a converter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27100893)

Even if they got their full price converter at Circuit City?

If they got it at Circuit City, then they're probably SOL. Every Circuit City I've seen has closed it's doors in the last few months.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101139)

So then the government should just give them a $40 or $80 check.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101369)

I got two today at Circuit City. Free, when you use the coupons.
I applied for the coupons around Xmas, got then early Jan, used them today.

Our CC closes Mar 8.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101555)

The coupons expire after 90 days (I confirmed that on the dtv.gov page).. did you use expired coupons? and they worked?

Re:People who already bought a converter (2, Informative)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101631)

The coupons expire after 90 days (I confirmed that on the dtv.gov page).. did you use expired coupons? and they worked?

He said he got them in "Early Jan". Even if he got them on January 1 (Assuming that he didn't mean January of a year other than 2009)it hasn't been 90 days.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101655)

Sorry, brain fart time. I was mentally 'wrapping' around a year. I got mine early *last* year, so was thinking that was when he got them.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101741)

The expiration date on mine was Apr 7 09. 90 days after Jan 7 ("early Jan"). Apparently the date they were printed/mailed.

I don't need the converter boxes (have cable), but got them in case of future need.

Re:People who already bought a converter (2, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100925)

If they had no problem buying it with their own money, why should they get a handout?

Then again, I'm a crazy liberal who thinks that the government should give to the poor, not the rich.

Re:People who already bought a converter (4, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101037)

If they had no problem buying it with their own money, why should they get a handout?

Then again, I'm a crazy liberal who thinks that the government should give to the poor, not the rich.

Well I'm a crazy [insert whatever] who wants to know why the hell we're giving handouts for TV for anybody! Nobody will die without American Idol.

Re:People who already bought a converter (5, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101117)

Bread and Circuses..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses [wikipedia.org]

Re:People who already bought a converter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101695)

or, dog and pony.

Re:People who already bought a converter (3, Insightful)

YenTheFirst (1056960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101187)

But people will die without tornado information, among other things. Yes, radio is an option. When dealing with people, however, sometimes a graphical representation is just much more useful.

Re:People who already bought a converter (0, Troll)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102189)

But people will die without tornado information, among other things.

If the actual people involved don't value their lives enough to buy a TV for tornado reports, I certainly don't value their life enough to buy a TV for them. Let them die for all I care.

Re:People who already bought a converter (2, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102259)

but you didn't buy a tv for them, they bought their own tv's. You bought them (a tiny fraction of) a tv converter box.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102497)

Well that just make's his claim that much more dubious. Assuming the people in question were already able to buy a TV, and most of a converter box, I don't see why they can't just bite the bullet and pay for the remaining tiny fraction of the conveter box.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102329)

This is a really odd thread here. The parent's parent said:

But people will die without tornado information, among other things. Yes, radio is an option. When dealing with people, however, sometimes a graphical representation is just much more useful.

The people who use a TV will likely try to get a converter box immediately when they notice notice they aren't getting any channels regardless of the rebate program. The people who don't care enough to get converter box likely don't need a visual representation, would have never seen the broadcast on TV anyway...and nothing really has changed. The parent poster said:

If the actual people involved don't value their lives enough to buy a TV for tornado reports, I certainly don't value their life enough to buy a TV for them. Let them die for all I care.

Like I said above, nothing has changed. You think you made an intelligent retort, but it's the equivalent of telling a non-beer drinker they can't drink beer any more. These people likely didn't give a rats-ass about tornado reports on TV. If they die from lack of information, it would have absolutely nothing to do with owning a converter box. So....is this thread much ado about nothing?

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102999)

You don't need information from a 'tv' when that siren sounds get in your tub, nuff said.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101189)

But TV is the opiate for the masses! How can you govern an intelligent, reasoning populace? You can't give them drugs, so you give them free coupons for TV!

Re:People who already bought a converter (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101221)

To reclaim the spectrum (the fcc auctioned off access to the reclaimed spectrum for more than the converter box program spent).

Broadcast stations got much of that spectrum for a song, but it isn't particularly ridiculous that some of the funds were spent on mitigating the impact of the switch.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101355)

Well I'm a crazy [insert whatever] who wants to know why the hell we're giving handouts for TV for anybody! Nobody will die without American Idol.

They're doing it because they want the ability to revoke playback of recordings. It's necessary for the proper functioning of the Ministry of Truth.

Did you see the news the other night? Army kicking in peoples doors and stuff... that can't be real. That newscaster looked a bit freaked out when it was aired. Scared even. You didn't see it? Check it out, I recorded it.

That's weird... it won't play. Hold on... there's someone at the door...

Re:People who already bought a converter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101583)

Well I'm a crazy [insert whatever] who wants to know why the hell we're giving handouts for TV for anybody! Nobody will die without American Idol.

They're doing it because they want the ability to revoke playback of recordings. It's necessary for the proper functioning of the Ministry of Truth.

Did you see the news the other night? Army kicking in peoples doors and stuff... that can't be real. That newscaster looked a bit freaked out when it was aired. Scared even. You didn't see it? Check it out, I recorded it.

That's weird... it won't play. Hold on... there's someone at the door...

Link or it didn't happen.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101699)

Whoosh!

Read 1984 sometime.

Unlike most govt spending it's NOT a handout (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101721)

Well I'm a crazy [insert whatever] who wants to know why the hell we're giving handouts for TV for anybody! Nobody will die without American Idol.

It's not a handout. It's a (partial) reimbursement from the government to the previous users of the bandwidth for seizing the bandwidth and selling it for billions, which went into the treasury.

The analog television system worked just fine for what it did. A LOT of people bought equipment in the good faith expectation that it would continue to be usable for the equipment's life.

Then the government decided that, if it forced the TV stations to switch over to digital, they could provide a replacement service that would be better than the existing system (which wastes lots of bandwidth to reduce analog interference), it could re-sieze a lot of that bandwidth and auction it off to other users.

  - The existing broadcasters get replacement bandwidth and can get more use out of it by multiplexing other services into it - which helps them pay for the new equipment.
  - More use gets made of the total bandwidth, thanks to the new services enabled in the auctioned spectrum. So the buyers and their customers are enabled.
  - But the old viewers are hosed. They have to upgrade perfectly good equipment or buy a converter to continue getting the level of service they already bought into. There are a LOT of them, and many of them don't have a lot of spare money to throw at the extra expense.

So the government is spending PART of the money it got from the auction of the spectrum to pay PART of the cost of the converter boxes for the viewers.

It's like paying (but less than market rate) for land seized by eminent domain.

The origin of property rights is making use of and improvements on previously unowned property in the expectation that you can then continue to do so. By that definition, the broadcasters and the viewers had a property right in the spectrum previously used for analog broadcast TV from which they've been evicted by the government for its own profit. So it's reasonable for them to expect payment for their loss and trouble.

Re:Unlike most govt spending it's NOT a handout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102451)

Where are you getting your information? How is ATSC Digital TV better than NTSC-III with ghost-canceling circuitry?

Re:People who already bought a converter (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101167)

The issue isn't about whether someone can get the money to pay for it. The issue is that the government is making a lot of money selling the spectrum, and part of it was to compensate people for the costs imposed on them.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101499)

The issue isn't about whether someone can get the money to pay for it. The issue is that the government is making a lot of money selling the spectrum, and part of it was to compensate people for the costs imposed on them.

Who will immediately re-compensate the wireless providers who purchased that spectrum by paying higher prices. It's not like we're getting anything for free, you know.

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101627)

We're talkiing about $2 Billion so far ($1.3 Billion for the first program, $650 Million now) - exactly how much did we get from the sale of the spectrum and didn't we already spend it elsewhere? I can't believe someone in Washington left $650 Million dollars lying on the table after they auctioned off the specturm...

That's not the Washington I knew!

Re:People who already bought a converter (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101443)

The government should give to noone. The government's only proper role is to uphold and protect individual rights. If you want to donate to worthy causes, feel free to do so, and to encourage your friends and family to, but don't force us all to pay for your pet program because you feel pity for the world and think you know how to solve everything.

LIBERTARIANS: LISTEN CAREFULLY (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102365)

LIBERTARIANS:

LISTEN CAREFULLY: The government made a NET GAIN on this transition.

They sold the spectrum reclaimed from analogue broadcasts for much more than this coupon program costs. It's not donating taxpayer money for TVs, it's compensating people for re-selling THEIR assets (radio spectrum) to private companies, something the government should be doing more often IMHO. And before anyone jumps up and down about how "people should be allowed to broadcast on any channel they choose", realise that no radio communication would work if that were the case - everyone would broadcast over everyone else, no-one would receive the signal they want, and it would be anarchy. There needs to be some authorisation for maintaining radio signals, and as bad as they are, the government are the only ones capable and willing (private enterprises don't have authority over one another, and no market force compels them to maintain the spectrum in the interests of the people).

Libertarians with mod points, moderate this post to oblivion if you want.

got mine (1)

Garganus (890454) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100955)

Just as an anecdotal data point, I requested coupons the day after the last /. article about their running out. I got them in the mail last week. I'm guessing you were asking rhetorically, but just in case; folks who couldn't wait are boned.

Re:got mine (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101185)

Lots of people had to hurry up and buy right before Feb 17. If the coupons had been flowing as they should have been, they would have gotten their coupons and saved $40 on the converter. They still need to get their share of the money paid for the TV spectrum some other way.

Re:People who already bought a converter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101303)

People who paid full price for a converter because they didn't have a coupon when the partial transition happened need to have that converter confiscated NOW because they are obviously so addicted that the only cure is cold turkey.

Is it spent yet? (2, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100803)

That $1.3 billion is the amount that has been allocated to be spent. Last I read, less than half of that had actually been spent and the rest was tied up in coupons that had been requested but had neither been used, nor expired yet.

Doing the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27100811)

The program allows 2 coupons per household, at $40 each. This is a max of $80 per household.

The total program funding is given at $2 billion. This means, at a minimum, 25 million American households still receive OTA TV signals. Given that not everyone who's eligible will apply, and not every household has multiple TV's, a more realistic figure might be somewhere around 30 million households.

There are a little over 110 million US households in the US per the US census bureau.

Assuming the program is properly funded, this means that between 25-30% of US households still use OTA TV.

Something's not right here. I seem to recall the numbers for "how many people will be affected?" by the DTV transition were considerably lower. Either this program is dramatically over funded, or a huge percentage of participants don't actually need the boxes, or digital TV penetration is considerably lower than was advertised when the transition was debated...

Re:Doing the math (1)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100853)

Anybody that currently subscribes to extended cable already has a digital converter box, that takes care of a lot of 'em.

Re:Doing the math (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101625)

Uhh, no. I have extended basic cable, and have all analog. They are going to move it to digital at some point (unrelated to the OTA digital, but IMHO they're using the confusion as a reason for switching). Actually, I have two Tivos that can use cable cards, so I guess technically I have a "digital converter box", but it's not being used for that.

(We can get 'free' boxes that will convert the equivalent of extended basic channels -- but that doesn't help S3 Tivos.)

Re:Doing the math (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101055)

Assuming absolutely 0% overhead, you'd be right.

Re:Doing the math (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101115)

You're missing something with that logic. While most households do have cable/satellite, those can become useless in bad weather (lines breaking, dish swinging in the wind), not to mention random cable outages caused by careless people with backhoes, drivers running into poles, etc. Most sensible people, when asked "Do you want two coupons so that your two cable-equipped sets can continue to receive OTA TV if your cable goes out?" will say "Yes." without giving it a second thought. I'm surprised that the number of people requesting these is not closer to 100% of all TV households.

Re:Doing the math (1)

Boarder2 (185337) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101131)

Seriously? If your sat/cable TV goes out, you're so desperate for TV that you switch to OTA?
Wow.

Re:Doing the math (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101159)

In a severe thunderstorm under a tornado watch? You bet your you-know-what I switch to OTA. A few extra seconds notice of approaching tornadoes can save your life.

Re:Doing the math (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101601)

If you are in a situation where seconds matter, why not act preemptively?

Re:Doing the math (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101853)

If there's a tornado watch, what the hell are you doing sitting around staring at the TV?

Re:Doing the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102909)

If there's a tornado watch, what the hell are you doing sitting around staring at the TV?

Checking to see if the watch has been promoted into a tornado warning.

You don't need to cower in the basement for a tornado watch. Those tend to last for several hours, and do not necessarily mean that any tornado will even develop. Even with tornado warnings, most people check to see if they are actually in the path of the storm.

Re:Doing the math (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101133)

Err... the post above you was missing something, rather. Clicked the wrong reply button. My bad.

Re:Doing the math (1)

mahohmei (540475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101637)

Where I live, pre-ATSC, I could pick up zero channels using an indoor antenna--I joked that Comcast jammed the airwaves. Mount an antenna on the roof, and you're in business--bonus points if you had an antenna rotator.

At home, I have cable TV, but no roof antenna. If Comcast fails because of an idiot with a backhoe, we're stuck with whatever is archives on the TiVo.

Now, if Comcast goes all-digital, forcing us to get a cable box, we might dump cable TV, get Internet-only, and put an antenna on the roof. We'd need two ATSC tuners.

Re:Doing the math (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101141)

Even though I have satellite, I am still very much affected by the DTV transition. For example, in my basement I have a traditional OTA TV that I rely on when there is stormy weather. Now, this wouldn't be a problem but A) I live in the midwest, where, in the spring and summer tornado warnings come out of nowhere and it is imperative I get watches/warnings along with radar so I can know if a tornado is about to strike. B) My satellite does not get great signal when it is storming outside.

So yes, even though I do not technically "need" a DTV converter box, I am seriously considering buying one for the news coverage during severe weather.

Re:Doing the math (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101289)

I live in the Midwest, on a farm, on a hill. I find the tornado warnings on the radio quite adequate.

Re:Doing the math (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101317)

Yes, but I am the paranoid type that has to know EXACTLY where the hook echo is that they are talking about not that by worrying about it will I change anything but still.

Re:Doing the math (1)

BarefootClown (267581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102371)

Yes, but I am the paranoid type that has to know EXACTLY where the hook echo is that they are talking about not that by worrying about it will I change anything but still.

And you want to force me to subsidize your neurosis. How cute.

Re:Doing the math (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101685)

Do you also have satellite internet? If not, I've found the "Graphical Forecasts" and CONUS products at weather.org to be *really* good.

Re:Doing the math (1)

voxel (70407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102227)

Yeah, before television, I think every time a storm came, people just ran outside got zapped by lightning and flew around in the air by the tornados until they landed in Oz.

Re:Doing the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102279)

You can't get tornado warnings from AM/FM radio? (or better yet VHF weather radio)

Re:Doing the math (2, Interesting)

vdammer (796081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102355)

I live in the midwest, where in the spring and summer I can feel by the humidity, air pressure and temperature if a tornado is on the way. I certainly don't need the idiots at the local weather station telling me where a funnel cloud might be. And in the event that my senses aren't enough, the mechanical voice of the national weather service over a radio is the only other thing I need.

Weather warnings on tv are annoying time vampires that interrupt the show I'm trying to watch.

Re:Doing the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102947)

I live in the midwest, where in the spring and summer I can feel by the humidity, air pressure and temperature if a tornado is on the way.

Looks like you're in the running for a Darwin award.

And amazingly . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27100817)

we have not heard stories of mass outages of TV for the unprepared

Re:And amazingly . . . (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101195)

Any such stories have been overshadowed by mass outages of jobs, mass outages of lending by banks, mass outages of investment in stocks, and mass outages of sanity in Congress.

Tv went blank. (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100941)

And nothing of value was lost.

Re:Tv went blank. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101351)

Everybody stop posting. Parent said it all. Seriously.

Re:Tv went blank. (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102903)

What about the gone-on-DVD series you rip off BitTorrent?

No sympathy (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100989)

Federal regulators said Thursday they are going into 'search and rescue' mode to help the millions of consumers unprepared for the phased transition to digital television, which culminates with the June 12 transition deadline.

"Millions" of unprepared consumers? Seriously, the commercials warning about the transition have been playing several times an hour every day for the past 6 months or more (I was even getting them on Satellite TV, which is immune to the change) It's literally been impossible to avoid hearing about this.

Re:No sympathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101937)

well, if you don't turn on the TV ...

Re:No sympathy (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102699)

What's funny... I really haven't watched much OTA television since my kids were born. Maybe about two hours a week just capturing snippets of the news--but mostly Sesame Street. So, you could make a good argument that I DO live in a cave and I knew about this transition years ago when it was first proposed. I even vowed not to purchase a new television until after the transition occurred. I've since changed my mind on that, I'm keeping the TV and getting the converter. How could anyone be caught off-guard by this? It baffles me.

Now, why didn't I get a coupon so I can snag one of those fancy $130 antennas?

Maybe our only chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101003)

This is it folks, this may be the last real chance we have at identifying the portion of the country that's incapable of intelligence! They don't need search and rescue, they need search and destroy!!!!

I don't get it! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101237)

Send taxpayer money to Chinese manufacturers of converter boxes; to accommodate the bandwidth auctions to major US telecom companies: who intend to soak customers to get their money back?

Am I missing something???

Re:I don't get it! (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101261)

You got it, exactly.

Re:I don't get it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102511)

Yes, you're missing that the cause for all of this was the government's unwillingness to tell a mobile telephony provider to shut off and stop interfering with licensed radio spectrum used for public safety.

hurry it up, dude (4, Interesting)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101243)

So, let's just get the effing show on the effing road, dudes,... I bought my DTV converter, with coupons, over a year ago, and still get a crappy signal because 5% of the numb-nuts put it off until the last minute,... So all the DTV stations around here only broadcast signals at 25% power. So hurry the frak up so the rest of us get a decent DTV signal!

Re:hurry it up, dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101445)

Applied for my coupon the very first day they were available. Didn't get it until almost exactly a year ago.

"Sorry, we have no converters in stock yet"

Tried again. And again. And then again. Apparently, they'd arrive during the day, and be cleared out before I got off work every fucking time.

"No, sorry, you can't reserve one, sir."

Day before they expired in June 2008, I'm going place to place, trying to get one. Still none to be had.

So now, I've been waiting nine months for them to let me reapply. And the numbnuts in Congress waited to the last minute before the conversion to go, "Oh, yeah, those of you screwed by slow processing and then a lack of availability, maybe you should get a second chance, because our asinine expiration date fucked you out of 'em."

Re:hurry it up, dude (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101619)

You fucked up; you should have waited until a good box was available and then applied (they are a technology product, being first is not a good thing!).

(I applied ~June and got my coupons in September, at which point stores were chock full...)

Re:hurry it up, dude (2, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101693)

Applied for my coupon the very first day they were available. Didn't get it until almost exactly a year ago.

"Sorry, we have no converters in stock yet"

Tried again. And again. And then again. Apparently, they'd arrive during the day, and be cleared out before I got off work every fucking time.

"No, sorry, you can't reserve one, sir."

Day before they expired in June 2008, I'm going place to place, trying to get one. Still none to be had.

So now, I've been waiting nine months for them to let me reapply. And the numbnuts in Congress waited to the last minute before the conversion to go, "Oh, yeah, those of you screwed by slow processing and then a lack of availability, maybe you should get a second chance, because our asinine expiration date fucked you out of 'em."

I keep seeing stories about this "shortage" and I think the problem is more with how the converters were distributed than a real shortage. The Circuit City where I live priced them at 70% off last weekend and they still had a mountain of them piled up on the floor. I would estimate there were 500+ stacked on the floor by the entrance, and still more on the shelves. I've been to several other cities in the US in the last couple of weeks and have seen them on store shelves also.

Cable outage (3, Informative)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101247)

About 3 weeks ago, power was lost due to a storm. On the 2nd day of no power, I ran an extension cable from the TV to the my big UPS that still had energy remaining because I shut down the computers soon after the power went out (knowing it would be a while before it came back on). Nothing was coming through via Comcast. That could be because their lines were damaged in the storm, or their equipment was without power. I could get TV over the air from 2 stations, one in analog (which isn't anymore), and one in digital (because I could power my digital tuner from the UPS). People who have cable and no fallback means to receive TV in the event of a storm or accident that takes out the cable wiring or equipment is ... unprepared.

Re:Cable outage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101293)

So, by this logic, everyone who has a TV needs a converter box...

Yes (5, Interesting)

localroger (258128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101365)

At first I wasn't going to get a converter, because I am allergic to paying money for the privilege of watching commercials. But this is one of the reasons I relented.

I have to say I am surprised at the result. Even 60 miles from the transmitters with a modest antenna that gave me a very snowy signal on analog, I have twice as many channels and they are razor sharp. There have been a few transient artifacts but not the hopeless pile of random polygons I feared because of my marginal signal strength. I was very afraid the damn thing wouldn't work at all out here and I'd be stuck for the difference between the true cost and the coupon.

Re:Yes (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102471)

Have you tested that this works when there is a storm system between you and the transmitters? Signal loss is much higher in saturated air (think rain) than unsaturated air.

Re:Cable outage (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101381)

Does the word "radio" ring a bell?

Re:Cable outage (1)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102339)

Probably not. To me it seems like the "coupon-defending" crowd is leaving heavily on the notion of "it's impossible to get enough warning information from a radio". It's been explained time and again that the radio has sufficed for this purpose in the past, and it will suffice in the future.

I know that when the power goes out here, I don't dick around with the frickin' TV trying to get it power. I pop a 9-volt into my radio and tune it to the usual AM news stations for info. Some people just refuse to comprehend that THE RADIO WORKS!

Expired coupon holders? (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101287)

What happens to all those who applied for coupons in the early stage of the program -only to be told by local retailers that there was no stock available- and their coupons expired?

Re:Expired coupon holders? (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101357)

TFA syas that they're planning on making it possible to reapply. The DTV2009 site doesn't seem to have it as an option yet, though.

Wait, What? (1)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101307)

From the summary, "The millions of consumers waiting for coupons for digital converter box coupons will finally receive..." Coupons to get coupons? How long before those run out and we need coupons for coupon coupons? (ad infinitum? Also kind of sad that this typo reflects the actual state of things!!)

insidious focus (1)

PublicBore (1342919) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101347)

Whom is the target of this program? Supposedly it is consumers unprepared for the transition, that being those not yet digitally equipped. Why aren't they yet? Given the addictive nature of television, I can't think of a reason other than that they are not addicted. If television addicts are already eqipped for digital TV, and everyone else just doesn't care, who will benefit from the program? Because it doesn't exist for consumers, but for the fear that less consumers may watch TV, it will help neither the consumers nor those with the fear. It'll only help whomever ends up with the money.

fuck kdawson in the ass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27101421)

he's a bitch and deserves to be treated like one. motherfucker is a dumb fucking cunt.

get his bitch ass a new job.

Stimulus package (4, Insightful)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101489)

So, can someone explain what the DTV coupon program's funding has to do with stimulating the economy?

Re:Stimulus package (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101607)

The same way it has anything to do with studying the odor of pig excrement.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1509505/president_obama_addresses_nation_pork_pg6.html?cat=9 [associatedcontent.com]

Re:Stimulus package (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102407)

Ever been downwind of a pig factory farm?

No?

Then you have no idea what nauseating stench really means.

Yeah, spend some money to improve quality of life for those who live near one of these places.

(and to the Libertarian wankers who are even now typing that those offended by odors should move: Please FOAD, now!)

Re:Stimulus package (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101949)

One word: Keynes.

I don't agree with Keynes but the spending - even pork like this - is based on Keynes' theories.

Re:Stimulus package (2, Insightful)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101995)

Keynesian theory suggests that private sector decisions can be non-optimal. I don't see how a move out of a government-controlled spectrum by a government-sponsored program fits into that.

I see a lot of crap in this "stimulus package" that is just an excuse to spend money the government thinks needs to be spent for any variety of reasons.

Re:Stimulus package (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102197)

It doesn't. It was just put in the stimulus bill for the convenience of it. The DTV coupons have already been paid off via the analog spectrum sale; the issue was that not enough money from the sale had been allocated to the coupon program. So they put an item in the stimulus bill to have more money allocated to it (which at this point, all remaining money had been put in the general fund).

The fact that this is in the stimulus bill is just a matter of convenience, it's not a stimulus item and it's not intended to stimulate anything.

Penny-ante entrepreneurs are the reason why (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101609)

If there hadn't been so many trailer-trash penny-ante entrepreneurs requesting the coupons and then buying converters with no intention of using them but rather re-selling them on eBay and the like, there would have been plenty of funding to get the converters into the hands of the people who arguably need them. The trailer-trash entrepreneurs were quite probably the early adopters in the program, and the government had no way to guarantee that the converters being purchased with coupons were actually being used by the same people.

That's what happens when you let capitalist foxes into the socialist henhouse, so to speak.

Re:Penny-ante entrepreneurs are the reason why (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102449)

Based upon your understanding of what socialism is, is this YOU [skitch.com] in the documentary "Right America"?

Really, doughy, illiterate and a head full of piercings is no way to go through life, boy!

Re:Penny-ante entrepreneurs are the reason why (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102633)

I think you understand ad hominem quite a bit better than you understand socialism. Thanks for the deep insight.

Re:Penny-ante entrepreneurs are the reason why (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102757)

As opposed to YOUR absurd comparison of "socialism" and the current administration?

Humanoid, please!

Compared to any of the socialist countries in Europe, the Obama administration is a right wing ultra capitalist regime.

Frankly, if you think Obama administration is "socialist", I must insist that you cease using the Internet this instant, before you get your stupid all over everything.

Good day, sir!

Bread and circus (1, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101687)

I am SO glad that our leaders are dealing with the important issues. I mean, it's not like we have a shitty economy or horrible foreign relations to worry about lately.

Re:Bread and circus (1)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102021)

If people quit zoning out on The Biggest Loser and Dancing With The Stars, they may actually start talking to one another. And then, they might start READING too. Before you know it, they may start taking a vested interest in where their money goes and why. That certainly can't be tolerated ... quick, give more funding to fix the Boob Tube!

emergency funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102321)

"thanks to emergency funding"
Are these people serious? Emergency funding? This isn't that big of a deal. Oh well, a few noobs could be without tv for a week or so.

uTorret + Hauppauge MediaMVP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102627)

TV Tunning? That its so last century!!

Re:uTorret + Hauppauge MediaMVP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27102661)

> TV Tunning? That its so last century!!
and News? we real nerds use ham radio, you know?
(belive me, bearbug57 gives better news scope that local media)

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