Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Analog to Digital Television: Technology, Congress, and A Little Common Sense

"Some TV stations get ready to cut analog signals"
The Associated Press (February 17, 2009)

"NEW YORK (AP) — Some TV stations will cut their analog signals today and move to digital-only broadcasting. Others will take advantage of a grace period passed by Congress and wait until June 12...."

On a practical note, AP published this article:

"List of TV stations to end analog on Tuesday"
The Associated Press (February 16, 2009)

"More than 400 TV stations have said they intend to shut down analog TV broadcasts on or around Tuesday, rather than...."

The Delay Sort of Makes Sense

" 'This is not just about whether people can watch their favorite reality show,' said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. 'It's about whether consumers have access to vital emergency alerts, weather, news and public affairs.' " (FCC press release (February 16, 2009))

Okay: That sounds sensible. Although I wonder if people who, for three years have done nothing to get ready for today, will act in the next four months.

And, when June 12, 2009, comes along, and someone in Blackduck, Minnesota hasn't gotten a converter box; a couple of people who do their shopping in Pangultch, Utah, are in the same situation; and a neighborhood association on Chicago's south side holds out for new television sets to go with the converters: Does Congress set a third deadline? 'We really mean it' this time?

Besides, how does Congress know that, once everybody has the converter boxes, they'll actually pay attention to "vital emergency alerts, weather, news and public affairs"?

Maybe Congress should consider making the states build big residence halls, where people will watch the right programming from big, wide-screen community television sets, and be told when to pay particularly close attention. It could be called "The Cabrini Plan."

No: That's silly.

Meanwhile, for the Rest of Us ---

The Digital TV Transition says that "Digital Television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that will transform your television viewing experience..." I've no doubt that the technology will be impressive - once the bugs are worked out. As far as content, though, my guess is that it'll be more 90210-style drama, sports, and reality shows. Or, whatever the fashion is next year.

Related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

'This is not just about whether people can watch their favorite reality show,' said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. 'It's about whether consumers have access to vital emergency alerts, weather, news and public affairs.'

They still will. It's called radio.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

I see what you mean. On the other hand, this is the first practical reason I remember reading, for the four-month delay.

Oh, well.

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