Friday, February 06, 2009

Digital Conversion - 0111001101101110011000010110011001110101

In a move that will please nobody, the House approved the delay on the Digital Transition date, from February 17th to June 12th.
However, the bill allows stations to switch off their analog signals early - provided that a) they file with the FCC by February 9th and b) that the FCC approves it.


Of course stations want to turn their analog signals off on the 17th. Running two transmitters - both analog and digital - costs money. Depending on who you talk to, the cost of keeping the analog going will be anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 dollars per month. Either way, that's pretty pricey. Many stations have not budgeted keeping their transmitters running an additional four months. (And rightfully so. The fricking 2/17/09 date was set TWO. YEARS. AGO.)

Additionally, this delay means an extra 4 months of talking about the transition for stations. It means an additional 2 more quarters of having to file the 388 forms with the FCC [the 388s are the forms they require stations to submit that keep track of how many DTV transition PSAs, crawls, and advertisements they've aired over the past 3 months]. It also means that the public is going to be more confused as to when the transition actually takes place. And let's not get started on the amount of confusion, irritation, and non-conformity that is going to result with *some* stations being able to make the transition early, while others wait until March. Or May. Or June. Christ.
And the kicker is, the whole point of pushing this back was because there are reportedly some 6.5 million households still not "entirely" prepared for the switchover. (Some people state that those reports are exaggerated. I get that, because we are, by Nielsen's standards, not entirely prepared, since we have one TV with a converter box and one TV without. That being said, we're still ready, because we really only watch the one with the converter box hooked up.) But, the thing is, there will ALWAYS be people who aren't going to take action until they absolutely have to. Punishing everyone else because of their inaction makes no sense.
And really, would not having television access be such a horrible thing? Proponents claim that citizens require the ability to get emergency information, but, um. Radio? The Internet? Friends?? I mean, it's highly irritating that this much importance has been placed on the digital transition to begin with, but the fact that it's being screwed up is like icing on the cake.

Bah. I know that the above was very stream-of-consciousness-esque and probably didn't make as much sense as it should have, but it's been a long day and I felt like ranting.


Amy said...


Anonymous said...

Sorry it's causing you aggravation. I don't mind the delay only because June is more down time for TV, so if it takes us a few days or a week to sort it out then, it won't matter. We bought the converter boxes ages ago (w/ the govt. coupon), I've hooked up and programmed one of them. After which I went back to analog because of a few glitches, the main one being we couldn't get a decent picture on our Fox network channel, i.e., the channel that shows House.

That being said, I take your point that they set Feb. as the date a long time ago. They should have managed to stick to that date. I blame Dick Cheney (this is both convenient and usually accurate).


Amanda said...

I think some court in Brazil ruled that television service was a necessary commodity, like water or electricity.

Ah, here it is: