Up and down about the DTV transition

I’ve been mainly up for the DTV transition to happen on its planned Feb. 17 date. Digital is the future, and analog is getting in the way. The newly acquired bandwidth will provide new channels for emergency and public services, cell phones, more television programming, wireless internet, and I’ve heard even satellite TV transmissions.

But something happened yesterday that reminded me the digital transition will not be a positive thing for everyone. I volunteered at a local domestic abuse center and the first thing I saw when I walked in was a room full of families watching a tube TV from the 80’s. Rabbit ears, ghosted image, disappearing color channels, the whole nine yards. They had no plan for the conversion.

We’ve read about grandmas losing their daily soaps and the guy with an analog TV in the garage who turns it on for some company. We’ve also heard about folks who live way out there who can’t get the digital signals, and those who lose signals due to interference during high winds and storms.

Well, yesterday the House voted 264-158 to delay the transition until June 12. So all those TV watchers we care about will continue to have their programs for another 4 months. But some companies who have already invested and planned on the conversion will lose momentum and income. Broadcasters will also lose money by having to continue to broadcast analog.

I’m still on the side of the converting this month. What could we possibly do during those four months to get the converters out to those 6.5 million households who either ignored the FCC’s outreach or just didn’t have the resources to get prepared? My guess is that anyone who is not ready now will still not be ready in 4 months. I predict only a small percentage of those 6.5 million Nielsen Co. reported will actually be prepared on June 12.

This may seem harsh but my answer would have been to go through with the conversion and let people find out for themselves what has happened. We lived without television 100 years ago. What’s the worse thing that could happen? Folks may even find themselves picking up a book. Now there’s a concept.

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Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot writes about technology, broadcasting, and digital entertainment. You can also find him on Gameverse, Gadget Review, and Google+.

One Reply to “Up and down about the DTV transition”

  1. Shun says:

    For those who need a government coupon to subsidize the cost of a converter box or having trouble making the DTV transition, check out Retrevo.com.

    Retrevo offers a Good Neighbor program that connects someone who needs a coupon to one who has an extra coupon. Check it out at:

    http://www.retrevo.com/dtv

    It’s a free service, so help spread the word!

    Also, you can take a look at Retrevo’s free DTV Survival Guide to help smooth the transition (bottom of the page at the URL above).

    Hope this helps.

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