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Will America's Favorite Technology Go Dark?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the firefly-might-be-back-on-by-then dept.

Television 930

Ant wrote to mention that MSNBC is reporting on the upcoming proposed digital television switchover planned for the end of 2006. From the article: "That's the date Congress targeted, a decade ago, for the end of analog television broadcasting and a full cutover to a digital format. If enforced, that means that overnight, somewhere around 70 million television sets now connected to rabbit ears or roof-top antennas will suddenly and forever go blank, unless their owners purchase a special converter box. Back when the legislation was written, New Year's Eve 2006 probably looked as safely distant as the dark side of the moon. But now that date is right around the corner and Congress and the FCC are struggling mightily to figure out what to do."

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930 comments

A suggestion maybe (5, Insightful)

hyu (763773) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334492)

Perhaps they should delay the switchover if they're not ready.

Re:A suggestion maybe (5, Funny)

Dal Platinum (829197) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334519)

Delays will make them look weak. There is no room for weakness in the analog-digital marketplace.

Re:A suggestion maybe (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334584)

If congress delays this, they saying that they are delaying freedom and liberty to all.

Don't you get it? We need High Definition 5.1 Channel 24 bit Audio to TRULY be Free. If we don't hold true and resolve with integrity, with the NTSC terrorists could take control of our antiquated ANALOG signals and broadcast terrorism to all coners of the globe.

Yes, the only way to be truly Free is to have digital television & a PIMPED SUV to put it in..

Consumerism. Whether you like it or not.

Re:A suggestion maybe (3, Funny)

Hast (24833) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334587)

We all know that only a morally void character will flip-flop when presented with new evidence. I mean, otherwise it means they held on to the first opinion without substantial evidence.

Re:A suggestion maybe (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334597)

We're doing this in Germany right now. Some areas with high population density have already been switched to entirely digital distribution over the air. There is a difference however: Only a small percentage of viewers was receiving TV programming over the air anyways. Most viewers have cable (mostly analog) or satellite (mostly digital), so they were not affected by the switchover.

DVB-S(atellite) is very popular, so we're used to set top boxes. DVB-T(errestrial) is very similar technology, so the receivers are already in the same price range (starting at about $65).

If you delay this, you'll just be in the same situation some years down the road. Without setting a date and sticking to it, nothing gets done.

Re:A suggestion maybe (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334600)

That delay would deny hard-lobbying^Wworking companies fruits of the law they already paid for.

It's a matter of forcing people to ditch a solution that has been working for over 50 years, something that is dated but does its job, and is a lot cheaper. Old, cost-efficient things are what the industry hates. I run a server off a Pentium 120Mhz box -- do I need anything more for a minor WWW server that doubles as a border router for a small company LAN and an ISDN dial-in box for several employees? It works just perfectly. I get more from this ancient machine than you get from your P4 6Ghz if you waste your CPU cycles for running a spiffy GUI that blue-screens once a week.

The poor who watch TV can't afford HDTV. What they need, is low-cost entertainment, not high-end displays. I'm sorry if it cuts your company's bottom line -- but using legislation to force people to throw out what's working well just so they have to pay the upgrade costs is just wrong.

Re:A suggestion maybe (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334651)

Analog TV emission is wasteful. Spectrum is a scarce resource (at least the ranges which are well-suited for long distances) and digital transmission makes much better use of it. Spectrum is also a public resource, and some of us don't want to see it being wasted any longer. Your right to use outdated technology collides with my right to put the frequencies to better use.

Re:A suggestion maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334602)

Or maybe "cancel" the stupid bill? The question is: why did they vote for this kind of crazy shit in the first place?

It's about plugging the analog hole (5, Insightful)

Christian Engstrom (633834) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334663)

Perhaps they should delay the switchover if they're not ready.

Oh, but "they" are as ready as they can be.

The driving force behind the legislation to abolish analog TV is the big media companies, who want to "plug the analog hole". That's why this is happening simultaneously in most of the industrialized world, despite the fact that no consumers have asked for it anywhere.

Their motive isn't to give you better quality pictures or (God forbid!) more choice. They want to force everybody to switch to digital because only digital technologies support strong DRM restrictions.

They can't retroactively change the court cases from the 70's that declared it legal to record TV shows on video for your own use. But by introducing new technology that makes it impossible to do so, they can make the legal point moot.

And by switching from analog to digial, they move away from the legal area where a reasonable balance has been struck between the interests of consumers and copyright holders, and into DMCA territory, where you're more or less classified as a terrorist if you even try to tamper with the copy protection.

I apologize for being so dystopian.

Long Answer Made Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334493)

I dont think so. Because they used a lot of very bright lights when filiming shows.

dvd (4, Funny)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334495)

Back in 1996, when the digital television transition was first proposed, media analyst Gary Arlen observed wryly that "it will be easier for Congress to take away Social Security than television sets."

They can take my TV set out of my cold.... oh wait, let me see what ad-free dvd movie to watch first...

dvd-Ad Free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334591)

"They can take my TV set out of my cold.... oh wait, let me see what ad-free dvd movie to watch first..."

None. Turn off the TV, and go outside. There's fresh air, and that big lightbulb in the sky.

Re:dvd-Ad Free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334615)

But with Konfabulator, you can have your own sun [widgetgallery.com] at home!

Warm up the economy? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334496)

Too bad the US doesn't make any of that stuff anymore, or it might help the sucky economy.

Subject (4, Funny)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334498)

Expect congress to push the date back or be swamped with rednecks bitching about their TV.

Re:Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334528)

I know, the rednecks around here are already starting to bitch about having to upgrade their IPv4 routers. Just the other day Joe Bob was on about "those damn those foreign countries with all their electronic refridger-ma-gadgets sucking up all of our IP addresses!"

Struggling mightily (5, Funny)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334502)

Like the brave Ithacans who faced down the deadly cyclops, these legislators are facing down the awful realities of trying to legislate technological progress. And like the Ithacans, they are getting their heads dashed against the rocks and eaten.

Subsidize? (5, Interesting)

TWooster (696270) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334509)

Well, the government had either lift the regulation or start subsidizing these sets somehow. Oh wait, that comes out of our taxpayer money... For the people by the people my ass if this goes through without some kind of recompense. The market simply isn't ready for it...

But on the bright side, what a way to get your average Joe to take a look at the government and the way it operates than to turn off his idiot tube. Not that this regulation was all bad -- it was to spur on development. Would that they'd do away wth IP patents in the same way.

We'll see. In this case, the revolution may really NOT be televised.

Re:Subsidize? (3, Insightful)

Mac Degger (576336) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334628)

I'm sorry, but are you advocating that a government subsidise a technological swith concerning /a television technology/? Come on! Of all the things a government should spebd money on, /this is not it!/

A government should spend money on education or the environment...not on the quality of your tv picture!

No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334510)

In the US, legislations can be fixed by new legislations. No probs.

Already happening over here... (5, Interesting)

lxt (724570) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334511)

...in the UK, this is already happening, region by region - even though the official switchover isn't until 2008 or so. The first switchover was to a small area of Wales (with a smallish population), who decided by public vote (around 95% in favour) to switch off the analogue transmissions completely. I think my area (south west england/south wales) is scheduled next, although not for a year or so. Obviously, it's a lot easier to provide digital signals to the whole of the UK than it is to the entire of the US.

Of course, it's also to the UK (and I guess the US's) government's benefit, since by switching off early they can sell of the frequencies earlier, and get cash sooner.

Re:Already happening over here... (4, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334539)

Of course, it's also to the UK (and I guess the US's) government's benefit, since by switching off early they can sell of the frequencies earlier, and get cash sooner.

I'm wondering what is going to happen to the area of the radio spectrum previously used by analogue television when it is finally switched off - there must be a decent amount of bandwidth there, and I seriously doubt it'll be allowed to fester.

Higher bitrates for DVB (the current blocking artefacts on BBC1 etc. are ridiculous)? More digital TV channels? A big sell-off for (my hypothetical) 4G mobile phones, making £zillions for the government and near-bankrupting the over-zealous mobile phone companies again?

Still, a form of DVB which doesn't suffer from massive corruption when a lawnmower's running would be nice - it'll be annoying not having the analogue stuff as a fallback... ;-)

Re:Already happening over here... (1)

rpjs (126615) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334601)

Higher bitrates for DVB

I think I read somewhere that's certainly the intention for Digital Audio Broadcasting, once analogue radio broadcasting is switched off. It'll be nice to be able to use my DAB further than a foot from the office window...

same in germany (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334543)

you can see it on this map:

http://www.ueberall-tv.de/3content/planD/Ein-in- D. htm

reddish areas are digital only, green areas will go digital only this year

Welshmen (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334549)

Taffy was a Welshman,
Taffy was a thief;
Taffy came to my house
And stole a piece of beef.

I went to Taffy's house,
Taffy was not home;
Taffy came to my house
And stole a mutton bone.

I went to Taffy's house,
Taffy was not in;
Taffy came to my house
And stole a silver pin.

I went to Taffy's house,
Taffy was in bed;
I took up a poker
And threw it at his head.

Re:Already happening over here... and here also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334553)

The switching started this very spring here (in France) and millions of converter have already been sold witch the authorities consider a big success. The analog broadcasting will however continue for years. First to ensure that the whole country is covered by digital TV and second to ensure that people by digital converters to their grand-parents lost in remote areas who don't have a clue about what to do.

Re:Already happening over here... (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334660)

It is probably going to work here in the UK, albeit with some delays, because the Govt. has been able to pressurise the BBC into pouring money into it's digital services.

They've produced quite a lot of free digital TV, very little of which anyone watches, but, by releasing their popular shows from the analogue channels a week earlier on digital, they have had some results.

I would probably do it myself but I'd need to do too much work on my antenna and I can't be bothered. I'll wait til nearer 2010, which is when my region is scheduled to go dark.

Australia has a similar problem (1)

miaDWZ (820679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334512)

Australia has similar legislation and we are also getting close to our date (I'm not sure what it was off hand, but it isn't far).

Their solution to the problem was to re-interpret what the rules said, now they are working on the bases that Analog TV must be broadcasted till at least the date in the original legislation. As such, it's now up to the television networks to decide when they want to do it.

Re:Australia has a similar problem (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334544)

I'm pretty sure it's not until the end of 2008 in Australia, though it may actually be the beginning.

However I don't think it will be a huge problem, because set top boxes aren't that expensive to make, and so they'll be pretty cheap by the time DTV comes in.

What they should do is legislate that every new TV sold must have digital capability. I think that may help things a bit.

Re:Australia has a similar problem (1)

kakofb (725561) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334568)

Digital tv was launched in Australia on the 1st of January, 2001. Where were you? http://www.dba.org.au

Re:Australia has a similar problem (1)

kakofb (725561) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334558)

It's 2008. I have a DTV set top box, and I love it. But yeah, I think the government will extend the cut off line, unfortunately. It's really worth having. I get a second ABC channel, a dedicated SBS world news channel, on screen TV guide, channel operated TV guide channels, digital radio, and a whole host of strange channels offered by Channel 44. In addition, as soon as we free up the spectrum by getting rid of analogue tv, the sooner we can use it for terrestrial digital radio. A half decent set top box here costs about $AUD150 (about $US220), but a good one is about $AUD250.

Re:Australia has a similar problem (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334565)

Its 2008. I haven't heard of any moves to push it back.

Walk into any major retailer (dick smith, myer etc.) and 95% of the display space is taken up by widescreen TV's, most bundled with a set top box.

Can we just ban the sale of a new TV without a set top box or intergrated reciever?

But anyway, Foxtel (and soon Optus) are having more luck signing up people to their [crappy?] digital (or in the Optus case - soon to be) services at last count than the retailers have had selling intergrated digital TV's and STBs.

Look. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334513)

I'll probably cost Anonymous Karmafreak a few -1s, but:

We are currently at war in two countries and paddling, not drifting, towards German style fascism.


For God's sake (I use the term literally), quit bitching about your TV. There'll be time enough to save that after we save our lives and our country. I'm 25 years old and male and it seems likely I'll be invading Iran pretty soon, but the media is bought off and Slashdot, the biggest connector of intelligent people on the entire Internet, is less of a source of information than this month's GQ.


Please, please, I am begging you, I....ooh! Shiny!

Re:Look. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334522)

the biggest connector of intelligent people on the entire Internet

Bwahahahahaha! Oh, you meant connecting people to a hive-mind?

Re:Look. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334531)

I am intrigued and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Look. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334537)

So, you think letting a radical islamist nation (that thinks we're a great satan) to have a nuclear bomb is a good idea?

You haven't even seen fascism yet, but you will if you keep appeasing the islamofascists.

Re:Look. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334555)

So, you think letting a radical christian nation (that thinks we're a great satan) to have a nuclear bomb is a good idea?

You haven't even seen fascism yet, but you will if you keep appeasing the americofascists.

PS. You stupid motherfucker.

Re:Look. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334585)

You're just pathetic.

I hope you europeons will enjoy it when they first nuke you and then outbreed you and turn your societies into islamic states.

Re:Look. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334639)

You're just pathetic.

I hope you Europeans will enjoy it when americans first nuke you and then outbreed you and turn your societies into american states.

Re:Look. (2, Funny)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334659)

Slashdot, the biggest connector of intelligent people on the entire Internet [...]

Haha, that's a good one. :)

TV sets (5, Interesting)

Heian-794 (834234) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334514)

These TVs aren't exactly obsolete -- they can still function as monitors for game systems, video tapes, DVDs, etc., etc. The question is how expensive these converter boxes will be. I might be willing to shell out the money for one of those, attach it to the oldest functioning TV set I can find, and have a nice retro piece.

Re:TV sets (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334551)

In the UK, basic digital boxes are around £40-50 inc. VAT. If they follow the usual UK->US price conversion, that would make them around $50.

Re:TV sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334561)

Not very expensive... in Europe, set-top boxes for DVB-T currently start at approx. $70, and the prices are rapidly falling. In a few years, and with sufficient demand, they should be cheaper than a DVD player.

Not very expensive? (2, Informative)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334635)

Maybe not for you, but you're forgetting that many household have more than 2 televisions (we have 6). At $70 each, that's $420.

Even if prices were to drop to, say, $50 each, that's still $300.

I say wait until these devices are less expensive to manufacture first, like when they're closer to $20.

Simlar situation here (2, Informative)

azatht (740027) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334525)

Here in sweeden is simlar situation, but we will proceed with the conversion. Some part of the country is now switching, and I will get switched in late 2006.

Off course "officially" I have no TV...

Re:Simlar situation here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334575)

> Off course "officially" I have no TV...

Outside nordic countries that may sound wierd. Reason for that comment is that you need expensive television licence renewed every year. Because of that, many people don't officially own TV set.

What an appropriate time (2)

nigham (792777) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334527)

Its TV turnoff week [tvturnoff.org] people!

Re:What an appropriate time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334559)

Oooh... aren't you special when you don't watch tv. Oh that nasty tv. We would be soooo much better off reading books and going to concerts instead of watching tv.

You little attention whores. There's nothing wrong with tv.

Re:What an appropriate time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334652)

There's nothing wrong with tv.

We are talking about US television.

Hell... (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334569)

..Every week is TV Turnoff week for me; I come in and turn off the roommate's TV.

Re:Hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334593)

Every day is a turnoff day for me. For some reason I seem to turn off every woman I meet.

heres a good one (1, Interesting)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334532)

What do you call a comercial service that cuts off 70 million potential customers ...Progress is good , but if they need to phase it in slowly not have a termination date .Obviously 10 year was far from enough as you still have a good ?(half)ammount of the homes in the US with analog TVs(70 million TV sets is probably about a quater really or a half , who knows , i was thinking average of 3-4 people per house but then each house may have 2 sets or more ?? ).
They will need to extend the date till the numbers are well under 10 million(at-least ,preferably alot lower) other-wise several million people going out at once to get TV add-ons may cause a few problems(along with a few boosts in revenue )

Shut it all down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334540)

The government knows best.

its time (1)

AndreySeven (840823) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334542)

Something like this would encourage people to switch to internet downloads of shows, if something like this was available. I find it surprising that the TV corps, knowing of this, haven't set up good ways for viewers to download shows...

A service like that, released at the right time would be a huge money maker.

its time for FREE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334619)

"A service like that, released at the right time would be a huge money maker."

It wouldn't. Americans are conditioned to free. Free TV, free radio, free illegal P2P downloads.

Greatest... Prank... Evar... (4, Funny)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334556)

Personally, I would find it hilarious to see the aftermath of all this.

Just imagine: millions of rednecks and fat bastards on welfare with too many kids marching from over the hillside a la civil-war front-line style, raising rabit ears over their heads, pulling their circa 1970 TV sets in their little red Radio Flyer wagons, screaming some indiscernible southern hick yella-belly gibberish that amounts to "give us tv or give us death", the ground trembling as they aproach, the stench overwhelming even though they are downwind, their tattered and soiled clothes barely covering the numerous warts and rashes, legislators running in horror, asking "why allah, why oh why?!?!"

Yeh, that would be funny.

Re:Greatest... Prank... Evar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334583)

Personally, I would find it hilarious to see the aftermath of all this.

The revolution will not be televised.

How do the $$ advertisers feel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334560)

How do the $$ advertisers feel about losing so many millions of watchers overnight? Aren't they the ones who PAY the $ to make it all happen?

Do you want broadband internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334564)

Maybe the FCC should make dial-up illegal.

Eh? (1)

TylerTheGreat (848804) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334571)

If the corporations, i.e. Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, some English names, would get involved in this, promoting the converter boxes, actually mention this date to the majority of the public, Congress might finally get something done right, and on time. I am still waiting for Congress to realize that making everyone update their televison sets really won't do anything to help America progress. Why aren't their bills like this passed for high speed internet where I live? Why are we continually falling behind to the Japanese and European nations? Why doesn't Congress do something about actual problems, rather than enforcing the country to switch to H-Def so they can watch their precious football in pretty vision?

The price is the deciding factor. (1)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334572)

I have a 27" HDTV monitor, with a pair of rabbit ears supposedly able to receive HDTV signals. However, I do not have a HDTV receiver hooked into my TV, and since my HDTV is a monitor, it has no analog or digital (HD) tuner built in.

About a year ago I went to price out how much these boxes are, and at the time they were around $300. And that's too much, especially when you consider I watch maybe three shows a week (I got it to watch DVDs on and play my consoles on, mainly).

Plus, this is the only HDTV in the house, so the other TVs will need a converter box to convert the digital signals back into analog for them. And God only knows how much those are going to cost.

And I don't have cable or satellite TV, either. So spending over $100 (Per TV) just to get my local stations is pure bullshit.

Until we know how much these things are going to cost, congress and the FCC would do well to postpone the switch, at least until the devices necessary come down in price to something more affordable for everyone. For all we know, there may not even be any HD to analog converter boxes made yet in preparation for the switch.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... bzzz (1)

smk (41995) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334574)

Well, some people might use their TV for the countdown. Would be funny if one Technician switched to early ...

But seriously - German terrestrial television is switching to digital broadcast since 2003. It's done slowly (only a third of the frequencies at a time) and spread over the year.

As a result the transition works good. They only bad thing is that remote areas have fewer digital channels then the big cities.

The reason no one is switching over (4, Interesting)

Funksaw (636954) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334577)

The reason that no one really gives a damn about switching over is that most people have cable or satellite, while those of us (including myself, still on rabbit ears) just don't think American television is damn good enough to pay for. The Brits bitch about their TV licences, but at least they get kick-ass television and television news that is second to none. I would gladly pay it. But am I going to buy a converter box to watch American TV? No - I barely even watch the rabbit ears now - my TV is basically a device for watching VHS tapes on. It's a slightly bigger screen to invite friends over to look at (instead of the computer monitor) and to be frank, I don't know if it's worthwhile to lug to my new apartment when my lease is up. And if you want me to subsidize this farce? The only way you will get me to support subsidizing television is if either the companies that put television on the air start putting on some shows worth watching or we move to an "all stations are publically financed and owned by the government" BBC-like model. I plan to solve the problem by living in another country by the time that New Years Even 2006 rolls around, but this has been a clusterf*ck at the FCC. The waste of HDTV bandwidth and the utter mismanagement of this FCC, spending more time looking for nipples than caring about technology. The corporations squatted the spectrum, didn't do anything with it... why hasn't the FCC responded with the only possible course of action and removed their licences!

Re:The reason no one is switching over (5, Interesting)

rpjs (126615) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334632)

Being British, but married to an American, I used to subscribe to the "of course British TV is better" point of view, but I have to say that in recent years, the quality of US programming has got better and better and British programming, has tended to get worse and worse.

Having said that, the sheer amount of advertising on US tv is quite jaw-dropping, and I hate the way they cut straight from the programme to the ad without any "end of part 1" malarky like we still have. US tv news is on the whole worse than the UK's I'd say, although it is good to see truly local TV news unlike the pathertic excuse for it we have in the UK.

[1] although I do think the BBBC has been getting rather better of late [2]
[2] contrast though to the howling wasteland ITV has become

Re:The reason no one is switching over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334661)

Geese, why don't you tell us how you really think? You sound a little bitter there.
If you don't like the TV, don't watch it. Just don't b*tch about it to everyone. No one said that the government is going to subsidize anything. Those were just comments and possible ideas. Nothing in concrete there. If you know so much about bandwidth management, why aren't you there making it all happen perfectly? Go create your own shows that everyone wants to watch and pitch it to public TV owners. And how is government controlled TV better? You obviously only want good things but don't want to help out. Go spread your FUD to people who care about your whinning, if you can find any.

Radio Spectrum (1)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334578)

How many people is worth giving up the enormous amount of radio spectrum that analog TV takes up? Just cut it off and let them replace the old TVs or get cable. Or learn to go without TV.

meanwhile here in Japan .... (1)

mxpengin (516866) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334580)

Here the shut down for the analog transmissions is in july 2011 [digital-lifestyles.info]. But you can still buy analog TV sets on the shops ... mmmhhh, wide plasma digital TV. But they are still quite expensive. :(

Sweden (1)

Pidder (736678) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334581)

We're in the same situation in Sweden actually. By 2008 we will be all digital. Of course the general public is royally pissed off by having to buy a box for hundreds of dollars for every television in the household.

Re:Sweden (1)

hedge_death_shootout (681628) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334627)

Bloody hell, hundreds of dollars?! They cost 40 quid over here in the UK. You want I should send you one? :-)

Re:Sweden (1)

leathered (780018) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334654)

Here in the UK you can walk into your average supermarket and pick up a set top digi-box for around £30 ($55US). For the benefits you get that price is a steal, even if you have to buy one for every television in your home. I know Sweden is an expensive place to live but I can't imagine you paying 'hundreds of dollars' for a box.

Problem is not about adoption of new equipment (1)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334590)

The problem is that US content providers suddenly realized that digital TV is easy to copy. So they put the brakes on developing for this until they make new digital TVs with a broadcast flag disabling copying (or so they think)

Of course, this screws all the people who already bought new digital TVs. At least, this in my understanding of the problem.

Pay YOU TV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334658)

"The problem is that US content providers suddenly realized that digital TV is easy to copy. So they put the brakes on developing for this until they make new digital TVs with a broadcast flag disabling copying (or so they think)"

You don't need a broadcast flag to stop copying. Simply start producing content that people would pay them to take off the air.

Damn the media (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334594)

Keep in mind, the original legislation did state that 85% of the TV viewership must be on digital TV before they will simply turn it off: "Under federal law, analog service will continue until most homes (85%) in an area are able to watch the DTV programming." (from http://www.dtv.gov/consumercorner.html#needanewtv [dtv.gov]) MSNBC is just making news of a moot point. Granted, they mentioned this in the text, too: "That's where the Congressional loophole comes in. Congress can ignore the end-of-2006 cut-off if fewer than 85 percent of households have digital television sets." I really hate the media.

Re:Damn the media (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334634)

As an earlier poster mentioned, 85% of TV viewers have their signal fed by cable. This means, it's just a matter of interpretation.

How Could... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334599)

... the Big Media(tm) companies not love this? (Good old US-of-MPAA yall)!
It takes a technology thats essentially free, that everyone likes, and has nearly limitless content and turns it into some thing expensive, proprietary, and with exceedingly limited content that is tightly controlled. Oh and did I forget to mention hella-expesive? Sounds like an MPAA-RIAA wet dream to me.

Time to stop all of those freeloading bastards from stealing from the studios with their so-called "broadcast tellevision". Everyone knows those broadcasts are used almost completely to fuel internet piracy of first run shows!

Think now...one other thing will go dead at the same time... yes... right on top of the TV... yeah... keep looking... warmer...warmer... SUPRISE! Its your fair use rights under the Betamax ruling!

Stay the course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334608)

FULL STEAM AHEAD. Don't delay. Have an analog TV? Get a box. Simple. Everyone with cable or sattelite has a box too, it's not THAT big a hurdle. If people HAVE to get one, they WILL.

What? (1, Redundant)

kakofb (725561) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334610)

This is incredible! The U.S. doesn't have digital terrestrial broadcasting yet? Like, at all? Are you just going to shut down analogue and start broadcasting digital on one day? Australia has had terrestrial digital broadcasts for 5 years now, and while pick up has been slow, analogue tv is due for shut down by 2008. We have a few digital-only channels, and analogue reception in Sydney sucks, so digital is really worth it.

Re:What? (1)

hedge_death_shootout (681628) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334657)

The U.S. doesn't have digital terrestrial broadcasting yet? Like, at all?

If I may, I would like to join you in tittering through my elaborately frilly shirt cuff at the backward Americans.

I fact, I've found that a good analogue signal is a better than a digital signal for fast-moving pictures, so all those Americans are just sticking with the best transmission format for watching their beastly Nascar racing competitions.

Oh the rustic awfulness, [sniff].

As usual (0, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334612)

Unfortunately, this kind us situation is Business as Usual in American policies! Who does not know about illegal immigtation, and the procrastination our government is engaged in when it comes to outsourcing American jobs? I am afraid that very soon, we as Americans, will have no industial base and that is when our politicians will come to their senses.

Heck, even the problems the shuttle is having now were outlined more than seven years ago and because it was business as usual, nothing was done till lives were lost!

It's sad that the mighty USA now relies on a country with a "third world" economy to put it's very intelligent sceintists into orbit. (These are economist's words).

Same thing in Finland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334613)

Same thing here in Finland. Frankly it's plain stupid to shutdown all analog stations. They should leave one channel that would broadcast news and provide very basic services. It could also be used to inform citizens in case of emergency. Rest of channels can go digital that's fine for me.

Relax. Crappy TV ain't goin' nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334620)

The regulations required 2006 AND a large percentage of sets to be digital capable for the switchover to occur. It will be another ten years before that percentage requirment is met.

I would invest in HDTV if (1)

Fussen (753791) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334621)

I was not corralled into what media subscriber I would have to use.

The ultimate joy would be able to pull a HDTV right out of the box, plug in an antenna and get the signal right from the air without a subscription. Now sure HBO and those fancy channels may have their own methods of transmission, but to be able to locally broadcast stations, and public broadcasting systems is a critical priority.

Re:I would invest in HDTV if (2, Insightful)

FullCircle (643323) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334645)

Every network affiliate around here has an HD broadcast also. I think it's been a requirement for a while now.

I don't understand why most "HDTV's" are actually HD monitors with no tuners though. That pisses me off.

There is no dark side of the Moon really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334630)

Matter of fact, it's all dark.

Timeline of events... (1)

FullCircle (643323) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334633)

They planned this out TEN years ago?

By July 1, 2005 all new TVs 36 inches or larger and half of all TVs 25 inches or larger must be HD.

July 1, 2006 all new TVs 25 inches or larger must be HD.

Broadcast cutoff date of Dec 31 2006.

July 1, 2007 all new TVs 13 inches or larger must be HD.

WTF were they thinking not making all TV's sold be HD BEFORE the cutoff date?

In UK we manage thanks to 'FreeView' box... (2, Informative)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334636)

Here in (currently) rainy England, one can buy for not very much money a set top box that provides free access to the most popular channels, with more available on subscription or through regular satellite or cable providers. The price of the boxes has fallen to below £50 and the convenience they bring - such as electronic program guides and reminders, plus the significant improvement in picture and audio quality, makes them worthwhile. Therefore, most people buy them and buy them for their relatives too who may not be able to afford or understand what they have to do. (I'm buying one for my Mum.) This is probably going to happen in the USA, and just as people worried some would be left behind in the digital revolution - yet were not, same with the great digital switchover. Market forces and kindness will save the day.

Really not ready? (1)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334643)


We're having the same kind of switchovers in the UK of course. Now that you
can get a "special converter box" for less than $60, and get all the free
to air channels with very little hassle at all, is it really a worry that
the analog signal will fade off overnight, considering how easy and cheap
it is to get the new technology?

They could always delay it by a year, and make it not New Years 2006 but
December 31st 2006, and use the time this year and next to really really
push it. The BBC and partners did wonders in the last two years with
digital uptake - especially considering that in the last two years they
had article after article dissing the switch-off, saying that millions
would be without television and the world would end; the UK date of 2007
doesn't seem a problem around here at all anymore for anyone involved.

What I wonder is; the BBC obviously plugs ad advert for digital TV in
between most programmes it cares to, what entity in the USA would have
to take up this challenge? Does the FCC get free ad space on FOX affiliates? :)

Neko

Re:Really not ready? (1)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334656)

I suck. I meant extend to 2007 like the UK. Not to extend to the end of 2006
(which was the date all along..)

Really Crazy (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334648)

What will happen to all those old-fashioned television sets we're still buying when the analog transmitters go off the air?

Gee, I don't know, maybe, just maybe, THEY'LL CONTINUE RECIEVING CABLE AND SATELLITE BROADCASTS, CONTINUE TO BE USED TO WATCH DVDS AND TAPES, CONTINUE TO BE USED TO PLAY VIDEOGAMES, ETC.

I say this as someone who bought an NTSC TV just a couple years ago, and plans to use it exclusively for the next 10+ years... Most likely via computer, via firewire, from an HDTV cable/satellite box.

Many analog television owners won't need a converter: 85 percent of Americans now get all their television from cable or satellite providers, so for the most part the change-over won't affect them.

Oh, so you were just wasting my time with that first question... Fox News-style.

What seems to be getting completely overlooked is those who will be on cable/satellite, that will be out of luck when their primary service goes out. During any minor disaster around here, the cable goes out, so those without digital TVs better make sure they have plenty of batteries for their radios. Satellite can go out in similar circumstances... Depending on geography, heavy clouds, or smoke from fires might block your signal. Those that don't already pay Dish/DirecTV for local chanels certainly get the short end of the stick...

why not put it off indefinitely? [...] consumer electronics manufacturers are pushing Congress hard.

Ah, I see... We can't delay the change-over, because the same companies that continue to keep HDTV prices artifically high, don't want people to have any alternative but to pay their current prices. I wish I could buy myself a senator.

If I had seen even a SINGLE $300 (small) HDTV set at stores, I wouldn't be complaining. If I saw cheaper conversion boxes, I wouldn't be complaining. Instead we have congress about to give electronics companies a license to print money, and force a great many people to buy a $2,000 big-screen, or stop watching TV. For most people, no TV doesn't mean more Internet, it means less information, period.

Good idea (1)

Numtek (839866) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334653)

Maybe, just maybe when some sets go dark, their owners realise digital tv is not worth it, and stop watching television. Nothing more unproductive than having the tv on. People stop talking, stop reading, stop learning, and just go in absorb-mode.

Do they really have a right to force this on us? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334655)

I'm serious. Do they really have a right to force us to switch even though it's going to create more problems?

Another example of waste... (1)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 8 years ago | (#12334662)

Now, I understand that one can purchase this new-fangled box to allow those with analogue televisions to watch digital signals, but something strikes me as just bad:

With a country that is facing extremem pollution levels, a river (the Mississippi) that no one will ever swim in again (and live without a third-eye to tell the tale), and newspapers that routinely throw away more than a small forest's worth of paper every issue, such an idea to render millions (if not billions) of television sets obsolete (since, it is unlikely that the poor -- of which there are multitudes in America -- will be able to spare the money out of their already stressed paycheques to afford this, though I would not doubt that many will try) seemes like a gigantic waste.

But the danger of waste does not spawn from the proletariate class; instead, the danger is from the middle and upper classes who will look at their outdated machine and decide to upgrade. Well gee-willickers, now we have millions of televisions heading for the dump.

THis digital cable has _NOT_ been sufficiently introduced to lower the cost for the average Joe, and this very well could be a major disaster for congress since, and I hate to admit it, America opperates on the SPQR policy of Bread and Ciruses. Yes, those 'pleasantly plump' individuals can now eat more of those twinkies according to ABC's 'investigative report', but the "circuses" aspect is just as important.

This is yet another example of corporate America shooting themselves in the foot, in the long run -- both environmentally, and monetarily.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12334666)

Why in the hell would the government mandate this for over-the-air broadcasts? Most ppl who still use antennas do so because they can't afford or don't want to deal with cable, let alone an HDTV or a converter box. I'm quite confused as to why they would want over-the-air signals to go digital before cable.

Also, whatever happened to backwards compatibility? When color TV came along, people could keep using their black and white TVs with no changes, couldn't they?
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