×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Billion Dollar Handout To Upgrade TVs

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the if-we-can-send-a-man-to-the-moon dept.

Television 663

db32 writes "SFGate has the story of the cutoff date for those rabbit ear antennas that some of us grew up with (Feb. 19, 2009). Now while the story of analog vs. digital TV has been beaten to death, still I think there is something more here. 'The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration... said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce.' Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems — homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad — our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

663 comments

I'm blown away with (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340135)

people who don't relize the government does more then one thing.

Yeah, this is chump change... (4, Informative)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340171)

...compared to the money that was lost enroute to Iraq!

Seriously, the government knows that the incestuous US 'service' economy needs people to buy shit they don't need or it all collapses.

Re:Yeah, this is chump change... (5, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340337)

All economies are based on this. If noone bought things they didn't need, we'd eliminate all jobs but agriculture and medicine with a 90+% unemplyment rate. If people don't buy goods/services, there's no reason to produce them, thus no incentive to invest (if noone buys a product, why make it?). Capitalism is built on having a large pool of people willing to spend their money.

Re:I'm blown away with (1, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340261)

The government does more than one thing, but this is a completely frivolous thing. This is nothing short of a ridiculous misuse of funds.

It's not misuse, it's responsible (2, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340303)

The federal government is requiring that the analog channels be shut down, and consumers have invested billions of dollars in the technology that's going to become obsoleted at the flip of a switch.

So, because of their doing, they are taking a little responsibility and offering people a more painless way to make the switch. Whether or not $40 is going to be enough, remains to be seen (they might sell the boxes for $300, who knows.)

I don't think it's a waste of money. I think things like.. ohh, you know, going on this Iraq war was a ridiculous misuse of funds. And the numbers are absolutely staggering for that. This is a drop in the bucket.

So what? (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340345)

It's fucking TELEVISION. Those people had nearly a DECADE to deal with this cut-off. I have no sympathy.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340411)

Uhh, bullshit. We haven't been able to buy affordable digital receivers, ever. In fact, there's still no affordable digital receivers - they're all built into expensive HDTV's.

It's not "just fucking television." It's a MASSIVE consumer market. The government would do this as much for the consumer as for the industry that doesn't want a good fraction of their viewer base cut off. The government makes a lot of tax money from TV businesses.. or did you think it was all Wayne's World?

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340455)

Uhh, bullshit. We haven't been able to buy affordable digital receivers, ever. In fact, there's still no affordable digital receivers - they're all built into expensive HDTV's.

It really only affects you, though, if you still watch broadcast TV...since most people have cable or satellite, it's not really *that* big a problem, is it?

Re:So what? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340511)

I use broadcast to receive digital channels that Cox doesn't provide over cable. But I have an expensive HDTV.

The idea behind "free" broadcast media is that everyone can receive it. You don't have to pay a cable tax to get access to it. I think most people have cable, but I do believe there's a LOT of people that use OTA still, because they might only ever want to watch a few programs on the major channels. Local news, etc.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340593)

Most isn't all. In fact it is under 60% [ncta.com], at least for cable. Remove 16 million [wikipedia.org] and 12 Million [wikipedia.org] for satellite subscribers, and that still leaves you with around 20 million households that are just doing over the air. I would venture that the bulk of these are people who do not have the means to get a new digital TV.

While I have the means to buy a digital TV, I am not about to say that it is fair we cut people who don't have the means off. I would call it a problem, and big or small this should be solved.

RonB

Re:It's not misuse, it's responsible (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340437)

Whether or not $40 is going to be enough, remains to be seen (they might sell the boxes for $300, who knows.)

Well, digiboxes in the UK are going for about that. If they're going to be selling 24 750 000 of them, I'd expect they'll get the same sort of economies of scale.

Re:It's not misuse, it's responsible (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340565)

Those Consumers haven't invested billions of dollars, that's why they have old ass obsolete TVs. The poor are the only ones that could really need this, and a $40 voucher isn't the way to mend the digtial divide. The $100 laptop would be a better use of this money.

They may, but they won't have to... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340589)

Sell the box at $300 dollars that is. It basically requires a slightly souped up DVD player sans optical drive, with an ATSC tuner. Today a consumer can have an ATSC tuner for less than 100 bucks to go into a computer. A DVD with the capabilities of decoding such a stream and downsampling it NTSC for a traditional set probably could be implemented at the 50-60 dollar price point. So as a commercial product in 2009, I would be very surprised to see no option under $100 dollars.

Re:I'm blown away with (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340487)

Agreed. The money should come from those who benefit the most -- the advertisers. But then they'd have even more reason to complain when we skip commercials.

Re:I'm blown away with (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340541)

The government is - via executive fiat - "breaking" the television equipment that I paid for with my own meager income. It's upcoming ban on analog television broadcasts, requiring a switch to digital, is a government subsidy to the electronics industry (among others), with that money coming directly out of consumers' pockets. So the fact that that government is chipping in $40 on my behalf - restoring to me the basic broadcast television service they're taking away - seems appropriate to me.

People don't realize that they are the gov't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340567)

Most Americans do not realize that, in a democracy, the citizens are responsible for the actions of the government.

In a non-democracy (e.g., China), we correctly deflect criticism of the people since they have no say in the actions of the government. By that same reasoning, the citizens of a democracy are fully responsible for the actions of the government since the government answers to the citizens via the ballot box.

When the American government injures people in foreign lands, the American public is responsible and become a legitimate target of military attack.

Given the huge responsibility of being a citizen of a democracy, why do so many American voters deactivate their brains and vote entirely along party lines?

It just isn't that much money. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340177)

National budget is about 2 trillion dollars. There are many worse things that money is wasted on in there.

Re:It just isn't that much money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340277)

Are you sure? ;)

Doesn't this money come from ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340539)

Doesn't this money come from the auction of the airspace freed by replacing the Analog TV service?

If so it's a bargain - a slight dribble from the great vat of money the government rakes in.

I wish *I* could make that many billions with only one billion of costs. Talk about Return On Investment...

Please... (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340179)

$1 billion to the government is chump change. Not even 0.1% of the budget. Do you know how much more is spent on far more useless things?

What is more useless than Television? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340215)

Please, do tell. So people can get the 'news' or government warnings? Radio is cheaper, and more efficient for all involved.

Re:What is more useless than Television? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340335)

$1 BN is a lot of money to me, too, but this was the only way to get everybody to agree to give up the extremely valuable RF spectrum currently wasted by broadcast TV. I say "wasted" because the old technology is using up huge swaths of some of the very best frequencies. Newer technology will use this limited natural resource much more efficiently.

important (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340181)

You have to understand what is important to people.

Re:important (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340397)

> You have to understand what is important to people.

Hell, you have to understand what is important to the government. If the TVs went off, the people would either start rioting or thinking. The $1B handout to keep the TVs on is probably the best investment in political stability that tax dollars can buy.

Re:important (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340481)

Ohh, so you're another one of those people that thinks TV is bad. You know, my grandma used to say that too. And her mother said it about radio. And her mother probably said it about the telegraph or using locomotives.

If the TV went off, people would find something else to do. That's all. No riots.

Oblig. Simpsons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340183)

No TV and no beer make Homer something something...

you're suprised? (0, Troll)

Valar (167606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340185)

it isn't despite of crime and homelessness that our government is spending this money on better entertainment. It is because our world is such a shitty place that they are. Public spectacle and subsidized entertainment worked for the roman empire, why not the United States?

Re:you're suprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340329)

hmmm, when was the world not a shitty place? don't just blame Rome or the U.S., public spectacle and subsidized entertainment is a part of about any culture since the dawn of civilization. most religions are 80% public spectacle. pick your opium, but don't hate the player, hate the game.

Spread that misery around (-1, Flamebait)

PowerEdge (648673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340187)

Gov't really should be about equalizing misery and taking all the money from the doers and thinkers and giving it to the homeless and the crime ridden. Because, really, money is the solution to everything and the Gov't can just print more of it!!!! Those who make it, have too much, those who have a hand out can never get enough. Let's spread that misery around!!!

They already do: No-bid Halliburton contracts! (0, Flamebait)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340255)

Well I suppose the fat tubs of shit running those companies have homes....

What do you call redistributing Federal Tax Dollars from the prosperous Northern/Coastal states to the rest of the states who can't manage to break even?

Re:They already do: No-bid Halliburton contracts! (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340393)

I call it bloated government all around. Federal budget should be slashed slashed slashed. Enough for federal salaries, military spending, and a few other things. States can and should pick up the tab for almost everything else (and they should shrink also).

Yes I know I'm living in a dream world. The government, federal or otherwise, never shrinks and never will.

Makes perfect sense (5, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340193)

Giving away the boxes makes perfect sense when one has all of the facts. The government wants to SELL the VHF spectrum and can't do that until they can move the current occupants out. I'd guess they will get more than a billion from selling off the spectrum so they are going to buy off the last holdouts.

Re:Makes perfect sense (1)

oaksey (585738) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340497)

The Australian government had made heaps of money selling off various spectrum in recent years to mobile phone carriers. I agree the US government obviously just wants to free it up so they can sell it.

$8 to $10 billion the last time this came up (4, Informative)

Shawn Parr (712602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340633)

The last time I saw this oft repeating story come up on /. the FCC expected to get somewhere between 8 and 10 billion dollars when they auction that spectrum. They can't auction it until analog TV signals are completely shut down and the frequencies are no longer in use by the current licensees.

If I told you I would give you $10 for a $1 bill, would you take it?

Never get between Americans and their televisions. (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340201)

It should go without saying, but apparently it needs repeating.

Tax revenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340209)

So providing this coupon won't in turn generate tax revenue?

Mij

I don't know why you are surprised.. (3, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340211)

I don't know why you are surprised.. TV is the opiate of the masses.

Tell them they are happy.
Medicate them.
Tell them that the Government is protecting them.
Medicate them.
Provide an conduit for masses to not _need_ to think about day-to-day life.
Encourage them to medicate themselves.

Result; they will think that they are happy.

The Romans summed it up best, IMHO: (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340343)

"Bread and Circuses". It's all you need to placate the populace. Getting things done might be productive, but cheap entertainment is so much easier.

Re:I don't know why you are surprised.. (2, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340363)

And what is the difference between thinking one is happy, and actually being happy?

Re:I don't know why you are surprised.. (1)

thelexx (237096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340469)

It's called 'being oppressed' at a root level. "To oppress is usually to subject (a people) to burdens, to undue exercise of authority, and the like; its chief application, therefore, is to a social or political situation"

Let them be happy, then. (4, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340371)

I'm obviously not as pessimistic at the world as you are because I think that's complete garbage, but assuming you're correct: If a person thinks they are happy, who cares? Are you going to try and prove to a happy person that are, in fact, just as angry and boring as you are? What's the point? Leave them in their happiness.

Re:I don't know why you are surprised.. (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340495)

Exactly.

The propaganda machine has to run.

And use of the medium that conveys the propaganda needs to be encouraged.

Is it really that surprising?

This may be redundant, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340217)

Oh, for the love of pete! Give it a rest!

If I had a nickel for every time some idiot said the government should cut program X and give the money to program Y, however benevolent that might seem, I'd have enough to lobby congress to give me one bajillionth the money spent on lobbying and bridges to nowhere.

You know what, if it matters that much, put your money where your talking out of, cancel your TV and internet subscriptions, and go help a food kitchen or homeless shelter. Do you know how much they could do with the price of your broadband and entertainment budgets?

(Now, if you think that it's a stupid idea to cut off your internet access and fun to help someone, since you already give things away, stick a sock in your hypocritical nonsense. On the other hand, run for congress and fix it yourself!)

Re:This may be redundant, but... (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340527)

Never suggest a lefty actually take personal responsibility and do something about the problem they are talking about themselves.

No, it is only other people who should be forced to labour for their cause de jour.

Media (1)

StinkiePhish (891084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340223)

How else is the government going to tell us what to believe if we don't have multiple televisions on in our households?

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340225)

Maybe it's because the job of a government is to serve ALL of its citizens, not just give handouts to the minority of people that are poor/unemployed/homeless and screw over the vast majority of the middle class.

Great for me!! (1)

CitX (1048990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340229)

I am a shareholder in LG. Nothing like the government increasing my wealth via taxing you and giving me the proceeds for something a stupid as an converter box. I'll take it though.

Re:Great for me!! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340267)

So your no different then any corporation, regardless of what they do to make a buck.

Which is fine, just good to know your morals are money first.

Re:Great for me!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340357)

I don't see what morality has to do with this. I didn't choose how this society works. BTW, you need to learn to spell "you're".

already compensated for (3, Interesting)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340235)

Sales tax proceeds from all those $3K to $5K plasma and LCD screens over the years have probably already recouped the transition costs for analog to digital.

The weird thing is that the sales tax goes to the state not the feds, so it's nets out as a giant shift of funds from fed to the states.

Good Investment (4, Insightful)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340243)

If spending $1B ensures that the majority of citizens can watch TV, especially news, it is money well spent. Where and how else would you be able to deliver your messages to the mass simultaneously?

Imagine the chaos when people have to access "news" from various/conflicting sources, and start coming up with their own minds.

It's obvious! (1)

ephemeralspecter (990286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340251)

If they eliminate analog, then how are people supposed to know where to spend their money since they don't have digital?

"We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra."
- Tyler Durden

Haha just thought I'd throw that one in.

I wonder who put the money behind the lobbying to tell lawmakers this was a good idea? Any guesses?

Flawed perspective (5, Insightful)

RecoveredMarketroid (569802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340275)

...with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad...


This argument can be used to make almost any expenditure look silly. I can't believe, with all of the homelessness, that our government is [sponsoring arts programs | paying for students to take field trips | building monuments to fallen soldiers | repaving roads | ...]

Just because you have certain problems, doesn't mean that you do without anything else, until those problems are solved.

Then again, I can't believe that you bought yourself a television, when you could have donated your money to fight homelessness, etc...

Kill your TV! (1)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340279)

Do we really need a government-subsidized television upgrade?

I stopped watching television two years ago and found that my life was better without it. Don't get me wrong. I still go to the movie theater and buy DVDs and I enjoy watching videos from Google Video, YouTube, and similar sites. I do not think that anything on television is compelling enough for me to put up with the commercials and other drivel that takes up more than two-thirds of the available content and bandwidth.

Why not spend the money on something more worthwhile? There are probably hundreds of other projects and programs that would benefit society more than upgrading television sets.

A short list of better programs:
- Math and science education
- Families of killed and wounded soldiers
- Hurricane Katrina areas and victims
- College student financial aid

Re:Kill your TV! (2, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340627)

Maybe we don't *need* a government-sponsored TV upgrade, however, as other(s) have pointed out, the government wants to sell of the VHF spectrum. To that end, they have mandated that after the cut-off date people will no longer be able to use their otherwise perfectly usable TVs to watch TV. These TVs are not being artificially obsoleted for some clear greater good such as safety issues or environmental preservation (indeed, all the SDTVs getting junked for HDTVs will doubtless have a negative impact on the environment), but solely for the convenience of both the broadcast television industry and the government itself.

IMO, this makes the government ethically liable to pay for adapters. Yes, I know that it's myself and other US taxpayers who are actually paying for it, and I think that sucks, but the point at which to stop that suckage is long past: when HDTV was mandated. Now we just have to clean up the mess.

I firmly believe that the free market should have been allowed to decide when SDTV went away. Big government strikes again.

Imagine they were locking you out of the Internet (2, Insightful)

DeadGenetic (987851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340291)

They are the public airwaves, after all. And there are still lots of people who only have broadcast tv, no cable, no internet. Maybe a radio. We can't just up and revoke people's access to what might be their main source of mass media / news.

Anyway, what we are apparantly really paying for is better communications for public safety responders.

O sancta simplicitas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340293)

I am blown away that with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.
TV is the main brainwashing machine of the government. How would they otherwise make you aware of their successes of fighting "homelessness and crime on the home front, war and terrorism abroad"?

Completely different things (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340297)

Because we all know war and poverty can be ended with just 990 million dollars.

It's good faith. If the goverment is going to force everyone to either get a new TV (especially when TV is actually useful as a warning system. How many of you turn on the TV when the weather starts getting bad?) or a converter box, then they should help people make the transition. Otherwise, they would spend much more trying to forever support people still using the old standard. As long as these companies make the boxes for like 20$, and not just 40$ each to capitalize on the vouchers.

Perhaps stores could even offer to sell you a box and home installation in exchange for the 40$ voucher, which would be very helpful to the elderly or the technophobes.

Also... (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340367)

It should be pointed out from TFA that you are not eligible to recieve these vouchers if you are subscribing to a satellite or cable service.

Somewhere in a NSA memo... (5, Funny)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340313)

I'm sure "TVs" are code-named "Urban Pacification Devices (UPD)".

Ancient Romans had government-subsidized gladiator matches. Americans have Fox-subsidized American Idol. Same difference.

How about the other direction... (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340315)

with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.

Which is opposite of:

with all the billions spent on at home and abroad, they could not find a lousy $40 to keep grandma's old TV-set functional?

Demagoguery works both ways...

As one who worked on digital tv (3, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340317)

I can tell you the reason why the industry needs a subsidy:

No one wants to pay for DRM.

The market hasn't failed. Rather, the content companies have begun to realize that people don't want to pay more to get less.

I mean, why would I buy a tv with fewer features?

The content companies have begun to realize that they need to provide some kind of short-term incentive to get the customer to give up the rights to which they have become accustomed. Once the first generation grows up without the ability to record tv, they'll think it's normal. And the worst of it is that it isn't the content companies paying the bill, but the American taxpayer!

With DTV, the public domain goes away. DRM isn't there to prevent some content from being rebroadcast; it is there to keep all content away from the net. Even things legally in the public domain.

Call your Senator and tell him to oppose this bill. Tell him you don't want Congress wasting money...

You don't understand at all.. (4, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340477)

Ok, with the exception of the broadcast flag which has been struck down and not successfully resurrected, there is nothing of noteworthy DRM interest with respect to broadcast digital TV in how it compares to broadcast analog TV. The only thing people with antennas get different in broadcast TV is a signal that is perfect or *obviously* distorted. Depending on the quality of the set, the signal will most likely look better even than best-case analog signal.

I use rabbit ears (well, hoop antenna) with my Mythbox and ATSC tuner card just freaking fine and record to my hearts content (it's technically easier/cheaper to implement a perfect ATSC capture card, than a decent analog capture card, a decent analog card needs some sort of on-the-fly encoding, ATSC card just need dump the MPEG2 stream out. I don't have any problem recording TV at all.

Broadcast DTV is not DRM-encumbered at all. Cable companies enjoy a bit more DRM that is harder to break than their analog channel scrambling, but that is a moot point for ending analog broadcast TV and helping people to have the new standard accessible.

acting ahead of lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340319)

Since the gov't is forcing the changeover, they have to pay for the boxes, or there will be massive class action against this. But we still don't know how much the boxes will cost. $40 may be chump change. They still don't seem to be tackling one major problem: the massive infusion of millions of analog crt tvs into the waste stream, and all the heavy metals, lead, etc. associated with the changeover.

I assume slashdotters are also curious how these boxes and new laws will affect fair use, and betamax, etc.

Change to Digital (1)

NeoManyon (953080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340323)

It was my sincere hope that with the change to digital a lot of people would just say F' it, I'm not going to pay for something i didn't see a need for. Was there some vote on this, yeah thanks politicians for serving my interests.

Heck people might actually start to think if they weren't watching TV all the time. Guess it is not going to happen and i was naive to think so.

I rarely approve of government spending... (5, Insightful)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340341)

I'm a small government, small federal budget kind of guy, and I rarely approve of federal spending, but this I agree with. If the government passes a law that makes my otherwise perfectly useful TV obsolete, they damn well better help me upgrade.

Bread an Circuses (4, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340349)

Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.


If you deny the peasants their bread and circuses [wikipedia.org], they might just up and start paying attention to the world around them, and realize that their government is whittling away their freedoms one by one.

By the way, the plan to allocate these funds was announced back when the FCC announced plans to force migration to digital -- years ago.

Also (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340595)

Never underestimate the efficiency of TV as a country-wide birth control method.

Terrible (4, Funny)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340359)

It's terrible terrible indeed, and I'll be signing up for my 2 vouchers as soon as I can.

3 days (1)

carbon116 (792624) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340361)

You can get an extra 3 days worth of occupation in Iraq for a billion dollars, lets get priorities straight here.

Why a coupon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340369)

Why not just give people $40 cash? If digital tv is important to them then they can spend it on a digi box, but if (heaven forbid) their priorities lie elsewhere then why shouldn't they be allowed to spend the money however they damn well like?

Good (2, Interesting)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340373)

Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.
Television has a bit more utility than just playing back $GENERIC_REALITY_SHOW$ while generating revenue from advertisement. It also provides a means for news (regardless of your take on it) and broadcast communication of the normal or emergency variety. Newspapers don't work for emergency broadcast. And if radios were to suddenly stop working (and carried a similar purchase cost for hardware) there would likely be a similar plan in place to keep the current ones functional with a new system.

It's a good idea to keep signals available to current TV owners.

its the least they could do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340375)

If you gonna complain about wastes of money, start with the goverment spending over half a TRILLION dollars invading a country and murdering its people (Iraq). The least they could do is make sure that i can still watch Nova on my 30-year-old tv set.

It's a valid use for the money (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340389)

1. TV is important since it is tells people what's going on
2. Luxuries are important in modern society.
3. It would be unfair on poor families to suddenly take away their TV service rather than take measures to rectify the situation.
4. This only amounts to about $3.30 per US citizen.
5. The money spent on this is not being taken out of crime prevention, housing, the military or anti-terrorism efforts. If they did not do this, we'd only see a tiny tax break.

Seriously. It just doesn't work like that. The US is the richest nation in the world. If the government believed that the problems mentioned could be solved by throwing a couple of billion dollars at them then they would. Lack of television reception is a problem that can be solved by throwing a billion dollars at it.

Re:It's a valid use for the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340533)

>4. This only amounts to about $3.30 per US citizen.

If it is up to $40x2 per household, then wouldn't be like $40 x 2 / average size of household?

I am guessing it would be more like $20 per person unless the government prints out the other $16 or so per person out of thin air...

You've got to spend money to . . . (1)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340405)

Sure the U.S. Federal government spends large amounts of money on some mind-boggling things, but this isn't one of them. They can make far far more than that selling [fcc.gov] the freed-up spectrum. At some point the foregone 'interest' (read debt avoidance) makes this buyout worth it, rather than just waiting for analog TV to die on it's own.

The crazy thing is that they could just end analog TV and force everyone to buy one of these boxes, but there would be a huge outcry, so instead they give everyone a check that came from their tax dollars anyway, adding inefficiency but avoiding (irrational) political backlash.

Propaganda's Most Important Toy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340413)

... is worth every cent. Who would you keep the stubborns quite otherwise?

Look at who benefits from this (1)

pyite69 (463042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340417)

I'm sure LG had lobbyists pushing this.

As far as handouts go, this pales in comparison to the many billions of dollars given to the phone companies to provide fiber into every home in the country. Foolishly, the government gave them the money first - so the fiber part was never built out.

Prove you don't get satellite or cable? (1)

PerfectSmurf (882935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340427)

Having read the article I have to ask, how do you prove that you don't get satellite or cable? I can claim, state, attest, etc. that I don't get it, but how do I prove it? I hope that's an error in the article.

On another note, this is all is short sighted. We have analog tvs and we subscribe to satellite. Satellite goes out during heavy rain and storms - meaning we lose all the severe weather alerts and radar. The local station's analog broadcasts reach 30-40 miles beyond us, but only half the digital broadcasts reach us (our neighbors) at all. The digital converters won't cut the mustard for us and especially for those beyond us, because the signal isn't there.

You guys don't get it... (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340441)

..The "subsidy" is not earmarked from the general budget, but from the money earned from the sale of the now free analog spectrum rights to the highest bidders. This sale is expected to raise many billions of dollars (if not more). Taking a small amount of that revenue and giving it back to the people is not only fair and just, it makes sense, since the airwaves are public property.

Thanks,

Mike

Homeless love these things (0, Flamebait)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340445)

'The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration... said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce.' Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems -- homelessness and
And what homeless person wouldn't be thrilled to have an analog to digital converter to put in their shopping cart?

Let them eat cake. (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340461)

There are some who think that free television does more to reduce crime than any other thing.

Why bother to have more than one priority? (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340471)

homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.

First off, I do think this is an example of wasteful government largesse. But I really hate the given justification.

How about, "Innocent people continue to be raped and murdered on their way home at night. And yet, the government continues to spend money on post office boxes. Is your child's life worth less than a post office box?"

The notion that because something is very important that it therefore innately subsumes all lesser priorities is not consistent with any form of logical cost benefit analysis. Rarely if ever is there a linear relation to investment and payoff in terms of moneys allocated to resolving social issues, and the sort of qualitative analysis you mentally apply to "homelessness" vs. "television" is an irrational and inappropriate way to compare what is actually a quantitative analysis of "unit payoff per unit investment to resolve homeless" and the corresponding.

Anyway, I think a better question than "how can the government waste money on instead of ?" might be "why do I trust the government to be responsible for these monies in the first place?" It's pretty much a given that, whatever Uncle Sam does 'for our own good' with our own money, ninety percent of us are going to pissed about it.

article's fundamentally flawed assertion (2, Insightful)

southk (226086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340485)

I thought that "rabbit ear" antennas could still receive the new digital broadcasts (the 2009 requirement)? You'd need to upgrade to a TV that can decode ATSC, or get one of those boxes...

Juvenal said it better (1)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340493)

Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,
the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time
handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now
restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:
bread and circuses [wikipedia.org]


Law and Sausage (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340547)

As they say, there are two things you don't want to see being made. Law and sausage.

This proposal goes way, way back.

Part of Clinton's "balanced" budget (whatever "balanced" can be stretched to mean in the halls of gov't) was based on accelerating the switchover to digital and reaping the windfall from sale of the analog frequencies.

But, some lawcritters argued, this would be an undue burden on the TV-addicted public.

So they reached a compromise. Accelerate the sale but set aside some of the revenue to pay for converter boxes.

Of course the switchover date kept getting pushed back while the converter-box-bucks have remained.

No Surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18340549)

Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems -- homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad -- our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions.

Why? Unlike the problems you mentioned above, millions of Americans waking up one day to find that their televisions no longer work really could cause substantial civil unrest.

Rabbit Ears aren't going anywhere (4, Informative)

paul248 (536459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340551)

You can still use the old rabbit ear antennas with an ATSC DTV decoder box. The digital channels are in the regular UHF band, so there's no need to get a different "omg DIGITAL!!" antenna.

Social Interests (1)

CherniyVolk (513591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340619)


Television is used to control how people think and what they believe. So naturally, it's extremely important for those in power, as the most desirable thing for those in power is subordinate obedience... even moreso than "capital" or "money". More so than "money", usually because they are the source of it to begin with, they just want the pions to play accordingly.

That's the only real reason for Television, is to influence generalized social sentiments. It's not "mind-control" in a direct, precise and immediate effect... but it is influencial to a point of the involuntary connotation "control" has, and over a longer period of time, and broader subjects and not like "What am I thinking?". Mind control in a more broad and devastating sense (60 years ago, a sense of Nationalism and Patriotism was an admirable characteristic... today, in some countries it's illegal. Less than 20 years ago, Communism was openly, confidently and earnestly attacked and criticised... today... no one cares, it's just another governing/economic system. Less than 30 years, bell bottom pants were in style during the Disco 70s, and they are back now...) This isn't necessarily "cycles" that we are led to believe in... these are concrete directions that society as a whole has taken, and often, in 180 degree turns within 10 years of "exposure".

Virtually no one actually sits down and analyzes why they think . And this is especially true for the more controversial opinions like racism, abortion, animal rights etc etc. Because we fear the fact that we might realize that there is absolutely no founding reason for our beliefs, other than, familiarity. We've been told "x", my friends adhere to "x", I'll be alone if I don't.... Yeah, I believe in "x". Some people will think they have a logical explanation for their opinions or beliefs; but you really don't... and I can prove that too you...

Go to a public place, with a pen and paper (I used to do this all the time to show friends how stupid 'society' is.) Look up in the sky, point, look down, jot something down. Do this with confidence, like it's an official effort. The contrast of meaningless with "official" appeal will confuse people... finally, a small group will form and they too will start looking in the same direction. Then the claims of validaty will start forming, one will point and say something like "you see that?" and eventually someone else will agree that they infact saw "something" when they saw nothing at all.

Best part, they'll have no friggin idea why they are participating, and as far as their concerned, they wouldn't believe the truth (or the "cause") of their actions if it were enduldged, and it's garunteed they'll refuse to believe it, if enough people were there pointing at the same void spot in space.

So... It is easy to direct society into believing the dumbest things, and make them honestly believe in them, including having them claim they have a logical basis for their belief or some actual event that once happened that supports the belief.

As a result, the television/radio is extremely important to Government and Corporations alike. Because without, they don't have as much control over how you perceive the world around you....

Dear god, the fact some people need to watch "Reality TV" for 'real life situations' should be bloody apparant, but obviously it isn't as it seems to do well with viewers. What stupidity, all they have to do is pay attention to their own dysfunctional family, or go next door.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...