FCC Shutting Down Analog

When I first heard about the government mandate to discontinue analog broadcast signals I was excited. How cool would it be never to have to “tune-in” or flip through snowy channels to get to a decent signal? Granted I already have digital cable, but I do have several TVs, and occasionally like to set them up in the garage, office, or even outside while working.

To explain what is happening, the current analog signals that are broadcast will be replaced by pure digital signals, or, DTV. This would mean that picture and sound will have no interruptions, and have an overall better quality than analog signals which can be full of interference. This is supposed to happen by Feb. 2009.

Because most TV’s out in the world are not digital capable, anyone who wants to get television without cable or satellite service will have to get a digital-to-analog converter to enable their television to display the signal. (Remember that we are only talking about over-the-air signals, satellite and cable receivers do the conversions already.)

But what about the guy who has a small TV set in his office? Or the gas station in the middle of nowhere with a TV that is on 24 hours a day just to keep the attendants awake? Or how about guys like me, that like to “tune-in” to ball games while working in the garage? By Feb. 2009, if all these TVs have not been upgraded with a digital-to-analog converter, all that they will be tuned into is snow.

Two things to note: 1. These converters will, according to the FCC, be offered free-of-charge to each household. However, “The Act and its legislative history indicate that the coupon program is not intended to cover every television in every household in the United States.” (Read more of the FCC notice here) . That leaves a whole lot of televisions out there. 2. The analog channels will be re-allocated for government use. I’m not sure what this means. Will they be used for emergency announcements? Will there be a terrorist threat level channel? Will they be given to the public to broadcast? And if so, who will monitor the broadcasts?

My question is “Why not continue with the analog broadcasts?” Why not broadcast both analog and digital? Why leave all this conversion confusion to the viewer, many of whom will be completely left in the dark after Feb. 2009.

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