Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finally Some Sanity in Digital TV Switchover

Barack Obama’s transition team today questioned whether this country was ready for the analog to digital TV signal switchover, mandated by government fiat when it was completely controlled by Republicans.

Finally, someone is listening to me.

Years ago a young salesman at a big box electronics store tried to convince me to buy a digital TV. “You won’t be able to watch TV in 2009 if you don’t,” he warned. I said then that was completely ridiculous. There was no way, no how, America would be able to effect that kind of massive switchover.

People would be left without a TV signal.

When that happens, people sue.

Now it seems that some shade of rationality has descended on DC, and this February 17, 2009 deadline just may be moved back. Too many poor and elderly have yet to make the switch. The program to provide government-guaranteed $40 coupon to help defray the costs of buying a digital converter box has fallen far behind, and there is still a miles long waiting list just to receive the coupon, let alone find a converter box on the store shelf.

They say the converter boxes disappear off the shelves as fast as they appear.

Well, my prediction of “no way, no how” would have fallen flat had we continued to elect Republicans, wouldn’t it? Especially in view of the fact that the analog frequencies have all been auctioned off.

So Americans already stand to reap a huge benefit by turning out the kleptocracy that has raped and pillaged our country: they get to hold on to our real national pastime for a little while longer, until we are more ready to deal with this government edict.

We may yet retain our option to entertain ourselves to death with analog TV.

For a little while longer.



Anonymous said...

And maybe BO can help those of us that invested in Beta rather than VHS years ago.

Hal said...

No, Anon, if you were clueless enough to invest in Beta then you are definitely on your own. However, since analog has been the format since the inception of radio, those who are invested in that technology should have a fair shake at getting retooled before the switchover.

Thankfully we have more compassionate people coming into power. People who refuse to leave the elderly and the poor hanging out there on a limb while government fiat saws it off.

Anonymous said...

And maybe the government should buy us all hybrid cars, replace our old stereo turntables, make sure we all have broadband internet connectivity, etc. Count me in.

Anonymous said...

With all respect, I hardly see pushing back the digital conversion as an act of "compassion." I certainly agree that the ball was dropped with the converter box coupon, but you can't legislate technological advances, especially when it's something that is so ultimately trivial as television.

Hal said...

What is trivial and what is not? Is having a telephone trivial to you Anon? Or is it a necessity that your life my one day depend on? Once, not too long ago, a telephone was viewed as a frill. Now I daresay it is as close to a necessity that it is controlled by government regulation.

Up to until the 80's I would say that television was trivial, and a frill and there would be few to disagree. But after 60 years, television has become part and parcel of our culture, and where the vast majority of Americans get their information. You don't have to believe me, just read anything written by Neil Postman to become convinced.

No, Anon, the Obama team has done nothing less than preserve an important part of American culture for those who will be left behind the door on February 17th.

You should be more compassionate, but then there I go again, expecting a bear to prefer to relieve himself in a toilet.

If it's not your nature, it's not your nature.