Consumers Union Wants Congress To Delay Digital TV Transition

from the oh-please,-just-get-it-over-with dept

Now, we all agree that the FCC has screwed up the conversion to digital TV for over-the-air TV watchers, especially with the "coupon" program running out of money. But, it's still pretty ridiculous for Consumers Union to ask Congress to delay the transition (found via Consumers Unions' newly owned Consumerist).

The transition to digital TV has been delayed for years. It was amazing that we finally got a hard deadline of February 2009 given how many forces were fighting against it. Part of the problem was always some ridiculous sliding scale of when we'd be "ready." But, a hard deadline was set, and now it's important to just get it over with. The end result will be much better for consumers, because the old spectrum will finally be put to good use where it can provide an awful lot of value. Yes, the transition coupon program has been poorly run. Yes, it would be better if we figured out a better way (even now) to get converter boxes to people. Yes, there are still a number of people who haven't gone out and picked up a convertor box. Yes, there will be some confused people who turn on their TV and discover it won't work, but it's a very small number of people at this point, and given how much time they've had to deal with it, having their TVs not work should be the final kick in the pants to move forward. There's simply no good reason to delay the transition yet again. Update: Unfortunately, it looks like the incoming Obama administration supports a delay as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:06am

    There will always be a small group of people who won't be ready. This group of people are the lazy and the slackers. We can't stop the world for people like that. This has been coming for a decade, if you aren't ready by now you only have yourself to blame.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    The i-Team, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:08am

    Amen to that...

    Over here in the UK it's taking 4 years to conduct the switchover gradually and it won't be complete unitl 2012. Until then we can't get HD over the air - having to rely on satelite TV instead... It would have been better for everyone if we'd just pulled off the band-aid ages ago!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:19am

    All transitions have their bumps and bruises at first.

    This DTV transition is no different, and CU should know by now there's no such thing as "adequate time" for massive changes as there will always be those who just don't get it.

    There's quite a bit of blame to go around, especially when the majority of consumers think that an HDTV is required for the DTV signal, which isn't the case at all, and why they're not "ready" to switch. For millions, an HDTV is still rather expensive.

    Even with these "get ready to convert" commercials, they don't convey the message very well regarding the differences between TVs.

    True story: Was at BestBuy a week before the holidays and overheard a conversation between a couple and an employee. The couple had 6 TVs in their home, but only had one coupon. Wanted to know if they could get more, but was told no.
    The plot twist came when the employee asked how often the other TVs were used, trying to state just get what you need for now. The couple responded quite quickly they needed all because the wife doesn't want to miss O'Reilly.

    Of course, at this point, the employee discovered the couple had cable and told them a converter box wasn't necessary. Damn if the couple didn't argue with him and told him "but the commercial said we needed them!"

    In working in technology all my life, I can attest there is always going to be 25% of people that just don't get it and no matter how much you try to educate them, they're just too ignorant to adapt without force.

    Flip the switch already. For us that do know, we've waited long enough for these ignorant 25%. Best to teach these remaining after the fact, than before, as this way, they can see the change for themselves.

    Oh, and let's not forget about the 2% conspiracy theorists who believe DTV is a new way for the government to spy on all of us. Good luck converting these idiots!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:20am

    The problem is the people who aren't ready for the transition are the most vulnerable.

    My understanding is that the Wilmington test produced hundreds of help-line calls. Some people couldn't even figure out how to us the converter boxes.

    These people are probably elderly or perhaps low-income. Groups that may need a little extra help.

    This thing could be chaos. The coupons have run out. TV will be switched off, and the people who need the most help will be left in the dark. I don't have a solution, and maybe that's the problem. Maybe it's impossible to require anything of the groups that will be cut off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:27am

    Re:

    Like I said, this has been coming for 10 years. If it had been coming for 20 years there would still be people who don't get it. No need to hold the rest of the world back for them. Once the switch is flipped, they will seek help and they will receive it. It is only TV after all; it isn't like their air supply is being turned off!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:58am

    In the UK, the BBC takes a (whopping) license fee from every TV owner each year - basically to fund its 'public service' efforts. But neither the BBC nor the government are paying for people to switch to Digital.

    Why? because it costs just a few quid to buy a set top box. So quit whining.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re:

    What the heck is a quid? Some type of slang for pound?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    Its freaking television. I'm sorry, but that is *not* a necessity. So I don't buy into the line of "their the most vulnerable". Also, the converter boxes were essentially free since this was mandated. Really, the only excuse is apathy and stubbornness.

    People need to grow up a bit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    Not worth the 40 bucks

    Is there really anything on tv worth watching ?
    Screw it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    eztrigger, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    Kick in the pants is right! Get with the program people, the world is moving forward, with or without you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Dave, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    Well... being that the FCC has already auctioned off the analog TV frequencies (to the tune of $19B ), I think there will be a LOT of pushback on delaying the cutoff. There are groups that have been dying to get the old analog frequencies for other uses for years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Peavey, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:53am

    Re:

    There's always going to be lazy, uninformed, ignorant and stupid people in society. No reason to hold their hands through life.

    Setting one of these converter boxes is no different than hooking up a VCR, which I remember being able to do when I was 5 years old, and no, I'm not that smart.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Jayway, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    HDTV

    As my congressmen told me the reason for the switch was Sony HD sets weren't flying off the shelves so lets mandate that they be sold. Also the US needed the money from selling band width to the phone companies so people can watch movies on the big 2 inch screen and sit next to each other and type messages. If you need HD so bad it was available on cable. You wanted it, you pay for it not me. HD signals don't travel as far and analog and even with the converter boxes the local stations disappear in rural areas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Scott Cochran, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:58am

    Can you eat a TV

    Consumers union best spend it's time helping consumers on something that is important. Our goverment is giving people TV equiptment. This is a prime example of why America is going BROKE. OUR GOVERMENT,AT ALL LEVELS,HAS LOST CONTACT WITH REALITY AND HAS NO IDEA OF HOW TO SPEND TAXPAYER DOLLARS...........

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re: quid

    Yes

    Welcome to the rest of the world

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    IT Dude, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:08am

    Too damn bad

    Anyone who isn't ready doesn't deserve the right to watch TV.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    While almost everyone is placing the blame on the FCC for the converter box program. The FCC is not admistering the converter box program, it is dealing with the radio frequency spectrum. The converter box program is being run by the Department of Commerce through its National Telecommunications and Information Agency. The congrass shoulders the blame since the "feel good" converter box program was underfunded at its inception...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Matt, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    just get it over with

    I've never seen a consumers union so out of touch with consumers. Where do they come up with these names when it fails?

    I think we should revoke names temporarily when companies do the opposite...call them the "blunderer's union" until they straighten this out, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Thom, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:16am

    Missing people

    I'm curious Mike, where are the numbers coming from that say only a small number of people will be affected. Out here in rural and semi-rural America the changeover to DTV will leave hundreds of thousands unable to recieve a television signal because the digital signal doesn't transmit at as high a power level and doesn't reach as far as the analog one does.

    I'm in the third largest city in Kentucky. All the local stations have digital and analog signals now, yet I can receive only half the number of digital signals as analog. Sure that's still a few stations, so I can get needed news and weather alerts after the transistion, but it's not all the major networks. The bad thing is I'm about 35 miles as the crow flys from the transmitters but these stations are the only service for people up to about 60-70 miles from their transmitters. They will lose more or all stations.

    When analog goes silent there will be an uproar from rural America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:17am

    boat, missed

    Wow
    Lots of self righteous opinionated folks here

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    Re: Missing people

    I had not heard that many people will not be able to receive over the air stations after the switch. I have not followed the issue though as I have Dish network. I guess cable and satellite providers will get a sudden influx of subscribers. That or people will get off the couch and find something productive to do, myself included.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Re: quid

    Because the rest of the world uses the pound?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Re: HDTV

    DTV is *not* HDTV. If this is what your congressmen said, they obviously don't know what they're talking about and neither do you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    Re: Missing people

    That just means you're one of the small number of people. I don't think you are the epitome of the average individual's access to cable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Center Field, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    Yes, rural America will miss out

    Thom is correct. We live in a rural area where cable TV is not available. We get analog TV signals for 3 the 4 networks via a large, directional antenna with amplifier and rotator, at the top of a 24-foot pole. The transmitters are 60+ miles away.

    We also subscribe to satellite TV, but local channels are not provided because the nearest local affiliates are in a city that is too far down the Nielsen chart for anyone to care.

    So we bought and hooked up digital converter boxes, only we cannot get any digital signals at all. This is likely due to terrain, distance, and the abrupt "drop-off" of digital signals (as opposed to the gradual fade of analog signals).

    After the switch, we will lose all access to local channels, despite having done everything we were supposed to do to maintain them. We are not stupid, and we are not lazy. We just don't live in a metropolitan area.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Paul, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    The US needs to stop serving the least common denominator of America and just care about the majority. Yea, I know there's a difference between mob rule and democracy, but this isn't mob rule here. This is a bunch of people who refuse to step up. If you get left behind because you can't get a digital over the air signal, then yell at those responsible for the infrastructure. Don't hold back the rest of the country because some other company is too lazy to serve you correctly. Yell at the correct people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Doug, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    I recently convinced a good friend of mine to go ahead and get a new digital set and try it out, instead of a converter or signing up for cable. I haven't been to his house yet but he told me that the difference is phenomenal. Instead of getting 5 to 7 somewhat fuzzy stations from his rabbit ears he now gets about 20 absolutely clear stations, many in HD some in SD.
    No one ever talks about how this whole switchover might be better for the average consumer in the long run.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    It's been good to me so far

    I live in a fringe area, roughly 60 miles from the transmitter farm. I had spent so much trying to get analog, that the converter box just blasts signal at the TV. Between a 200 mile fringe antenna & a high powered signal amplifier top quality coax cable, the signal is DVD quality. Even with those improvements, my analog signal sucked, ghosts & snow almost all the time. The converter when I bought mine was $60 before the coupon, not an insignificant amount, but not out of reach for most either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    February was a bad time to pick period - I'm not against it just moving forward...

    But yeah - who's going to be impacted at this point? I doubt many 'techies' will....

    It will be elderly people, handicapped people, poverty stricken.. And in the middle of Winter was just a dumb time to pick - when some of these people might be relying on TV news to let them know if the senior center or adult education classes have been canceled due to weather - or anything like that.

    I don't have a HD TV, but they are all plugged into cable, so I guess I'm set, lol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    What are you thinking??

    This whole posting is ludicrous. What is there to complain about? I already have my converter boxes, and my local stations ARE broadcasting in digital in addition to analog. In fact I've watching digital over the air for at least 6 months already. I don't see that the deadline means anything to anyone who already has a converter box, but only to those who can't get the same $40 discount that I did, only because the gov screwed up the funding. Good thing that Consumers Union is looking out for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    Given how many ads i've seen since canceling my cable about the need to transition to DTV by February 2009, and all the websites to assist I gotta say anyone who doesn't know about this isn't watching tv to begin with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Dewey, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    I agree that it is "only" television and no one is cutting off the air supply. But I have strong sympathy for the people in rural areas that will lose all television signals (like Center Field above). My question is, how inept are the infrastructure people if the following announcement was made in August 2003: http://dtvnow.org/news/FCC-LPTVDOC.pdf ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Keep channel 6 as analog.

    I think most people are ready. Remember that a high percent of the public using alternate means to get TV.

    I do think we should have one frequency open for analog,
    that would be used for local news and emergency broadcast.

    I would suggest, for the U.S., that channel would be 6. Most FM radio can receive the audio broadcast of 6 and the battery TV can still receive a station do to an emergency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Michael Langford, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:57am

    Why is this even happening?

    Are not the signals run by private broadcasters? The government shouldn't even be involved, besides what use are the people that use free to air broadcasts anyway? No money in it for the broadcasters, it seems to me spending a bunch of money on them is counter productive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Re: Not worth the 40 bucks

    Just three shows, IMO:
    Supernatural, Life, and Battlestar Galactica.

    But other than that, all that's on is damn commercials.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Re: Can you eat a TV

    No, our government has not lost contact with reality, this is an important issue for them, television keep most of us entertained to the point of numbing our thinking and keep us away from reality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    usmcdvldg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re:

    I disagree, when people come home and find out there tv doesn't work, they'll assume its broke or call the manufacture in an attempt to figure out whats wrong. It will take them all of 5 mins to find out whats wrong and what needs to be done. And although there are extreme cases where some might not be able to afford $100 or so to get a box, It will iron itself out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Re: Yes, rural America will miss out

    You may want to investigate in looking at a taller pole for a more directional POV to the broadcast signal.

    Digital signals have a much "shorter" radius because they are directional, requiring a direct in-line station to pick up the signal.

    At 60+ miles away, I'd estimate a 50'-65' pole should work well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    usmcdvldg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    I agree, in the words of Carlos Mencia.

    This bus slows down for no one!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Eric, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Not everyone is lazy or dumb...

    I had to help my Uncle and Aunt set up their converter box. They did EVERYTHING right, but the converter box came w/ a crappy remote. You had to make sure you were pointing exactly at the box to make the remote work. I do not think the average person will be able to hook these up with ease or at least without help.

    I'm still all for the change though because it's been going on for longer than 10 years. I remember back in 1992 when I bought my first TV and the sales man was saying I needed a S-Video input on my TV because we'll be going to DTV any year now.

    Also for the coupons.. we couldn't even find a converter box for the whole time we had ours. Our coupon ran out by the time the stores around us got them in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Sean, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Missing people

    "or people will get off the couch and find something productive to do"

    I like that option and it would offer the possibility of helping the community and economy. How? By creating the need to interact with others and communicate for entertainment instead of sitting on their butt watching mindless crap just waisting electricity so they do not have to find something to actually do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re: Missing people

    I think this is more of the stations responsibility than the FCC's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    You don't know nearly as much about this race to HDTV as you may think.

    For example, not ALL stations are going to all-digital. Did you know that? Do you know why? Most don't. They have to keep analog TV for lower power stations that provide signal in mountainous and rural areas as well as stations that act as second-language translators.

    Do you know how long the U.S. has actually been trying to get HDTV? More than a decade. Think 25 years or more.

    Do you know how many issues they still have with the current system they're trying to set in place? They still can't even provide 1/2 of what they promised 10 years ago. Most of the resolutions they claim will be available won't fit in the bandwidth they alloted(6Mhz, the same as we have now) so don't be surprised when we go through this in another few years where your digital tuner needs an adapter to work with them.

    And it's not that I'm lazy, I just don't care for the government to do this. We already get shitty reception due to interference from other signals so amplification won't even fix our issues. Since digital TV is either there or it's not: for us it's NOT. And we live right in the middle of a city so we're not going to get lucky enough to find a rural repeater.

    Am I supposed to be thrilled to be told that my children won't be able to watch PBS, or anything else for that matter, because the government thought they knew better for everyone?

    They did this to AM radio back after WWI(IIRC) and we had a drastic drop in radio stations that we **never recovered from**, even all the stations we have today aren't a drop in the bucket compared to what we had. The same is happening with some TV stations right now. Think about that. Or do as most people do, and don't think about it cause it's easier to not think.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    DS, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: quid

    Great, now I'm starvin'. Who's in for a pound cake run?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: Why is this even happening?

    So you want to stop advertising to those who get TV over the air? If so I would love this I will cancel my cable account just to avoid ads. Now only if they could keep me from seeing ads in print form.

    Its sad when people 50yrs ago viewed less ads in there entire lifetime than we see in a year.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re:

    It has been coming for over 25 years, you just probably weren't around to know that.

    You aren't taking into account that there are people who won't get a signal even if they switch. Digital means you get a picture, or you don't; no in-betweens.

    I simply can't wait till the first few tornadoes start hitting this year and reception goes out due to storm interference. The death tolls are high enough when people can get reception so this should prove interesting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    Umm You don't NEED Tv.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Dr. Karl E. Taylor, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Don't need it.

    And then there are those of us, the militant non-conformists, that have not turned on a TV in years. Since what is offered on the boob tube is pretty worthless, why even bother.

    I get what I need from the Internet and the one eyed monster gathers dust, or becomes another flat surface to set things on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re:

    You don't know nearly as much about this race to HDTV as you may think.

    This has NOTHING to do with HDTV. Digital TV and HDTV are two separate issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: Can you eat a TV

    This is a prime example of why America is going BROKE.

    Actually, no, it's not. It's costing the gov't $1 billion, but in exchange for that spectrum they got $19 billion, and the new spectrum will be put to much better use that will generate a lot more revenue.

    This is an example of the gov't MAKING money, not going broke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    EXrider, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re: Keep channel 6 as analog.

    The problem with keeping one channel is that you would have tons of areas all over the US where transmitters would overlap on channel 6. That would be fine if the overlapping transmitters were broadcasting the exact same programming I guess, but that would make it pretty useless for region specific information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Matt, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Missing People

    I believe that after the digital transition is complete and the stations have had the chance to turn off their analog signals, the digital signals are supposedly going to be increased in power. I believe the timeframe for this happening is within a month after the transition in Feb. So, some people who are having trouble receiving the digital signal at this time might not have as much difficulty after the transition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Alan Gerow, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Get On With It

    Reading the comments, and I just had to add my own to clear something up. For anyone who refers to this switch to HD, listen up:

    The digital conversion of TV will NOT bring HDTV into your home. It will bring DTV ... Digital Television, not High-Definition Television. The difference is huge.

    DTV will have 480p resolution ... that's nearly normal resolution (the difference is 480i vs 480p ... interlaced vs progressive ... half the lines cycling at a time vs all the lines cycling every time). It will have better colors and a crisper picture, but it will NOT be High-Definition (that requires 720p or 1080i/p ... which is 720 lines and 1,080 lines, respectively). In order to get HD, you will need an HD TV and cable or satellite service that offers HD channels. (I have Comcast, and hate watching non-HD channels now)

    I know it's confusing, but it's different. You will hardly notice the difference on your TV, even if it is digital, between HD and non-HD until your TV is 32" or larger. You can use your old CRT TV with DTV with a converter if you use over-the-air TV (but your TV will make the signal look worse ... just like it used to) ... if you use cable or satellite, it won't matter because they take care of the conversion for you.

    I guess what I'm saying is:
    HDTV is DTV
    DTV is not necessarily HDTV (and if you use an antennae to get your TV, it won't be HD)

    But there are reasons to upgrade our system:

    1. More in less ... TV stations will be able to fit more DTV signals in less bandwidth than analog TV. So this means more bandwidth is available for other purposes AND a TV station can multi-cast several channels on their signal. Much like HD-Radio. You may now get ABC-1, ABC-2, ABC-3, CBS-1, CBS-2, NBC-1, NBC-2, NBC-3 ... that's more channels for you!

    2. Better picture ... digital signals have the ability for error correction. Your signal not the greatest, then your converter box may be able to figure our what should have been there, and fix it for you. Digital can also carry more information, so this means more color information. Unfortunately, this means that channel that you could barely make out because it looked like it was in a blizzard ... will not appear at all.

    I find it funny, though, that someone mentioned people in rural areas that can't get good signals. This will suck for them, but that's why cable was invented. Cable Television was supposed to get TV to the people that don't get reception. It's funny, because everyone in a city can get cable, but many people in rural areas, too far from the cable lines, can't (unless you want to pay an arm and a leg to have lines run to your house). Of course, this is where satellite TV comes into play.

    I hope this cleared some things up for some people ... because DON'T refer to the new TV signals as HD ... they aren't. It's DIGITAL, not HIGH-DEFINITION. It's only slightly better than what people have now with over-the-air broadcasts.

    Just, please, for the sake of the children and not making them stupid ... DON'T CALL IT HDTV!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    nasch, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Get On With It

    Right on, except for one thing:

    In order to get HD, you will need an HD TV and cable or satellite service that offers HD channels.

    if you use an antennae to get your TV, it won't be HD


    There are stations (I don't know the percentage) broadcasting HDTV (yes, real live 1080, though I don't know if it's i or p) over the air. You pick this up with a standard rabbit ears TV antenna, at least if you're close enough to the tower. It's not some poor man's HD either, I watch football in HD this way when it's available, and it looks great. Widescreen and everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Nick, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Get On With It

    While DTV is NOT HDTV, people with antennas can very much get HDTV. The majority of stations broadcasting a digital signal will be broadcast an HD digital signal in addition to, or as the primary signal. HD is very much available over the air. In fact the compression is usually lower, meaning the quality of over the air HD is generally higher than that of cable or satellite HD transmission of the same content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Horses

    "I live 60+ miles from the nearest town...After the switch, we will lose all access to local channels, despite having done everything we were supposed to do to maintain them. We are not stupid, and we are not lazy. We just don't live in a metropolitan area."

    Are TV stations 60 miles away local?? Isn't satellite TV a fantastic development for rural dwellers? But that's not enough? You want to make NO sacrifices for the fantastic benefits of rural living.

    Dude, I don't know how to farm, and I'm not independently wealthy. I need to work. I live in a city. I wait 15 minutes in line for a cup of coffee, I pay $20 for parking, I choke on fumes, I sit in traffic, I listen to my neighbor's kid play drums, and my other neigbor's dogs bark all day, and so it is. I choose to live here. I don't get the benefits of rural life.

    Guess what, you don't get some of the benefits of urban life. I don't understand why we seem to have this pact that rural America is short-changed if they don't have the same access to broadband, TV, media as their urban counterparts.

    How about this: I don't have a horse. Not allowed to have one based on zoning, and don't. If you figure out a way that I can have some horses in my back yard (at gov't expense), I'll work on a way to get you broadband and TV.

    Geez, rural America, get used to making choices with trade-offs. That's one of the small costs of freedom. Don't whine for the government to even up the score.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Pax, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re:

    I agree completely. Anyone who compares this issue to some kind of economic calamity for the disadvantaged needs to get a grip, or run for Congress (they'll fit right in).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    TechGuy, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    At most, stage the shutdown...

    I think it's absurd to delay the conversion -- it's been delayed enough times already. People who still don't understand (and care) are unlikely to suddenly understand it better in n months or n years unless we begin to use a club.

    However, perhaps we should do a staged shutdown over a period of a couple months to ease the transition. During the staged shutdown, TV stations would be allowed to continue using analog -- but only for limited purposes. Analog broadcasts would be limited to "simulcasts" of that appearing on the DTV and only news (including weather) and emergency information could be broadcast on analog. Commercials would be banned on analog and must be replaced by information about DTV transition. At all times that news or emergency information was not being broadcast on the analog channel, the station would be required to broadcast pre-approved instructions and information on "Why can't I see Oprah?" (and, no, it's not because "her last diet worked so well she's less than one pixel wide") and "How do I get my nanny TV back?".

    If a shortage of DTV converters is anticipated, the staged shutdown period could, itself, be phased. For example, the Eastern Timezone would start its two month staged shutdown on March 1, and each month thereafter moving West, another timezone would start its staged shutdown. This would allow available converter boxes could be deployed into more concentrated markets over a longer period of time and give time for manufacturing to pick up some of the slack.

    Remember, there is a thing called "radio" which can provide critical information - even in your car or via a battery operated device most people should have. So the loss of the analog signal is not quite as bad as some make it seem - yes, maybe on radio you can't actually see the trailer park in the next county take flight during the tornado, but you can be told enough about it to know to get somewhere safe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    TechGuy, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Re: At most, stage the shutdown...

    I now see that legislation enacted December 24 provides for some of the "staging" that I proposed in my previous post.

    The Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act (SAFER, S. 3663) is the relevant bill. (See http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s3663/show for more info).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Miriam, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Delay Conversion To Digital TV

    I speak for many living in rural areas where satellite companies refuse to support local network programming. Our only choice is to put up an antenna that will receive digital signals from long distances. I was quoted $450 to $950 to have one installed. Analog signals can be seen in my area with only rabbit ears although the reception isn't perfect it's tolerable and free! I am handicapped and I spend a lot of my day watching television. I can't afford satellite even if it did provide local programming and I can't afford to have an antenna installed, so I'm just out of luck. Thanks, digital tv.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anon, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:00pm

    It's annoying to have to make the switch. I got a converter box and it's hit or miss in my apartment building. It seems like any time there are high winds or lots of planes in the area, there's no reception at all. I mainly watched tv for news & weather - I agree that there should be one analog station left for news or emergencies. If the reception doesn't improve I'll have to switch to the radio for that in the future. I really doubt most people heard about this much more than a year ago, and I think it's a bigger investment than promised if you do need more than just the converter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Paul

    The farmers should quit worrying about getting meat and produce to those damn city slickers also, over weight gluttons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Another Planet, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 3:43am

    Re: Horses

    Excuse me, Mr. Genius.

    The airwaves in this country belong to ALL OF THE CITIZENS.

    people are such ignorant selfish assholes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Jan 9th, 2009 @ 4:32am

    Re: boat, missed

    Wow Lots of self righteous opinionated folks here

    Your life on the sea means you are new to the internet. Most everywhere that allows posting is full of "self righteous opinionated folks". Even the ownership of techdirt has been accused of it.

    And if it wasn't for my post, you'd remained ignorant. Now you have been educated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Wrong!, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Horses

    Ummm...the government just sold some of those airwaves so now Google owns some of the airwaves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:21am

    Re: Horses

    Well, the government is also paying for them not to farm their land, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Obama joins Consumers Union

    Nitwit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    norsk, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Yes, rural America will miss out

    Where are you getting your misinformation? Are you claiming that RF modulated with digital signals propagates differently than with analogue signals? The bottom line is that the digital format is less forgiving than analog signals for ultra-fringe reception - where the signal cannot be reliably decoded. Improving the signal strength via a better more directional (higher-gain) receiving antenna will certainly help - but it's impossible to say what height is necessary without looking at the topology of the terrain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Bill, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    delay of digital cutover.

    I have had my converter box in place for a couple of months now. It was very simple to install. However I am on outside antenna and have a habit of programming my VCR to capture TV programs during the month and the converter box instructions made no mention of how to handle this. After some experimentation I finally determined that I still can program the VCR to capture one TV program at a time. The converter box has to be on and tuned to the channel that I want,the VCR has to be programmed as to date and time with the channel identified as "line 1" and the TV and VCR off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Not a slacker, not misinformed, I have a Ph. D. in engineering and know exactly what has to be done. I just do not want to pay for cable as an occasional idiot-box viewer since a directional antenna with amplifier does not work at my location. For me, the only thing that works at my location is cable which means making another $1,000 per year in pre-tax dollars. What a shame I cannot continue to get crystal clear analog tv for channels 2,4,5,7,9 and 11 through the trees around my home after February 2009. Sometimes progress is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    Glenn, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Not a slacker, not misinformed, I have a Ph. D. in engineering and know exactly what has to be done. I just do not want to pay for cable as an occasional idiot-box viewer since a directional antenna with amplifier does not work at my location. For me, the only thing that works at my location is cable which means making another $1,000 per year in pre-tax dollars. What a shame I cannot continue to get crystal clear analog tv for channels 2,4,5,7,9 and 11 through the trees around my home after February 2009. Sometimes progress is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    What a shame I cannot continue to get crystal clear analog tv

    The losers strike me as the firms who use TV as a marketing method and the Government who uses the medium as a communication method to the citizens.

    Their loss. Your gain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Mikey Boy, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 8:44pm

    too freakin bad

    too bad for all the losers who couldn’t get ready for the program they've been publicizing for YEARS. YEARS! Give me a break. Television is NOT a right...it’s a luxury and if you can’t afford it then don’t get it like anything else. Or you could just wait for Lord Obama, the savior of the world, to come in and extend the deadline and then make people like ME pay for losers to get satellite TV cause that would only be fair right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Jejagua, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    A few thoughts...

    The transition coupon program has kept converter pricing artificially high. I've never seen on for less than $59 local retail. I believe they would be half this price, or less w/o the card program. Perhaps the price will come down now that the transition program is broke...and maybe now, folks too ignorant to have taken advantage of it may be enticed to buy a cheaper converter if/when the price drops.

    My extensive personal experience in my RV at "fringe areas" leans unanimously in favor of DTV. At locations where analog stations (perhaps only 1) is barely watchable, I can pull down 10 or more DTV stations with perfect clarity. I just crank up my existing antenna and turn on the amp. Granted, this does not parallel a home setup. Often now I don't bother aligning my satellite dish because the DTV converter suits the purpose.

    Did I hear correctly that once the conversion takes place that DTV signal power will be increased? Will that resolve the issues some folks have on the fringe?

    I just don't think it's wise to cater to the ignorance some folks have regarding technology. It impedes progress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Airwaves Belong To Everyone

    RE: #63 "Excuse me, Mr. Genius. The airwaves in this country belong to ALL OF THE CITIZENS. people are such ignorant selfish assholes"

    Sure, but TV *broadcasts* do not belong to the citizens. You have as much right as anyone to operate a CB radio, a WiFi router, an FRS radio, or to start a TV station in your rural town. But your partial ownership of the airwaves doesn't include the right to receive the broadcast signal of a private TV broadcaster 60+ miles away. If you do get signal, bully for you, if you don't, suck it up. Don't call ME selfish because I don't want to subsidize your TV (more than I already do). As I said, you subsidize my horses, then I'll work on your TV.

    RE #65 "Ummm...the government just sold some of those airwaves so now Google owns some of the airwaves"

    Leased, actually. The airwaves still belong to the people. And Google bid, but did not win any spectrum at that auction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    identicon
    Kurt Bellman, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    The problem is NOT the converter boxes...

    It is a complete lack of usable digital signal in rural areas. I cannot get cable TV. No cable company serves my area. I cannot get satellite because of protected old growth trees to my immediate southwest. I have a clear "line of sight" shot to the Philadelphia, PA stations which provide me with marginal but useful analog signals. But my digital converter box finds absolutely NO digital signals at all.

    Now all you idiots tell me why I have to lose my TV so that a few wirele$$ carrier$ can make billion$.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    Karen, Jan 20th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Digital TV

    There is no need to be mean to people who haven't acted.

    I am one of the people who has done nothing. I have 'Comcast' Analog Cable because even though cable customers "are not affected", 'Comcast' has decided to link their transition to digital cable to the airwave digital transition.

    I currently pay $65 mo. for basic analog cable and have no cable box. Every month they discontinue more analog channels in the basic package to encourage people to transition. To upgrade to digital cable I will need to pay more basic fee and need to rent/buy a box for each of my tvs (5)at $5 month more.

    I was at the inlaws and saw the great channels they get with their digital airwave box for free. I am considering buying a dtv converter and discontinuing cable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    KJ, Jan 20th, 2009 @ 10:12pm

    No more OTA rural TV

    I agree with Kurt. Tried a convertor out at our vacation home in northern Michigan and got poor reception if any. Same thing at my brother-in-laws apartment north of Detroit.

    The trouble with digital is that poor signal strength gives you audio and video dropouts that make TV unwatchable, while poor analog is something you get used to and is quite watchable.

    Sad, but large areas of the country will be losing their ability to get watchable TV over-the-air, and much more will find less usable channels.

    KJ

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    k dunna, Jan 21st, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Re: DTV

    Why do the people who can't afford the transition have to be dumb,ignorant and the rest? Some people have been working and striving all their lives and have jobs and are not lazy and yet can't afford the transition. Why not find a solution? Those who call people ignorant should look in the mirror. Ignorant!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    JRB, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 8:58pm

    Rural Folks Will Be Left Out

    The broadcasters are using PUBKIC airwaves, not private. All citizens own them. All citizens should be served by them, not just a few city dwellers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    Jim Holmes, Jan 25th, 2009 @ 5:44pm

    Digital service

    Unfortunately, after having secured a digital converter box, installing a digital antenna and conducting the scan necessary to identify stations for my mother, there was no signal nr stations for her to watch. She lives in Culpeper County in an area where there is no cable or wireess transmissions.

    How will she be able to watch her television? HELP

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    identicon
    David Johnson, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    Negative comment

    I guess I've been under some bush for 10 years. I have not heard of this transition and fully wonder at the need. Wow and I'm a professional, college educated. Some bush, huh? But then I have cable TV service which is lousy anyway. Why would I want more and in high definition an clear sound? Aren't there audiophiles returning to (ohmygod) vinyl discs supposedly for greater fidelity?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 28th, 2009 @ 6:45pm

    This "Idiot" Can Tell You Why...

    RE: Comment #76, "Now all you idiots tell me why I have to lose my TV so that a few wirele$$ carrier$ can make billion$."

    Kind sir, here's why:
    http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf

    Have a look at the entire usable radio spectrum in the USA. Now, take a look at how much of that spectrum is blue. That is TV, wasting a huge swath for "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns. I'm not a huge fan of TV, so I think it asinine that we waste our valuable airwaves on it.

    Now, bear in mind that there are better and worse frequencies, give our radio technology. Lower frequencies travel further, but can carry less data. That is the trade-off. TV, by virtue of being early to the spectrum handout, locks up much of the best spectrum we have.

    Now YOU tell ME why the 90% of citizens who get their TV over cable or satellite (and thus feed the content creation economy), and don't use ANY of our public resource to watch TV should continue to squander that resource so that the 10% like you can get a free ride?

    The carriers pay the Treasury for the right to the spectrum so that they can earn billions. The money goes to the taxpayer. But YOU seem to think that we citizens should not take this money, and continue to use our spectrum with 1940s analog radio technology, so that YOU can get TV signals. Do you understand how selfish that is? This is not a handout to the cellular companies, they pay US to use the spectrum. It's a question of accepting progress, or sticking with the past - even if accepting progress means a few people won't be able to watch Ugly Betty.

    Did you know about the spectrum chart? Who is an idiot talking out of their breadth?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Re: Not worth the 40 bucks

    u got that right!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    identicon
    Kurt Bellman, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Re: This "Idiot" Can Tell You Why...

    Derek:

    How DARE YOU assume the issue is episodes of "Ugly Betty" or "Everybody Loves Raymond"? What a smug arrogant jerk you must be! I pity your wife.

    What if the relevant programs are the Jim Lehrer News Hour, or a Presidential address, or NOVA, or Masterpiece Theatre, or the Sunday morning news commentary programs such as Meet The Press or Stephanopolous' program, or even (horrors!) the Indianapolis 500 or The Masters golf tournament?

    Why should usable broadcast TV, THAT ACTUALLY IS A RIGHT(!!!!!) in this country be shouldered aside? FCC licenses are grabted only insofar as licesees act "IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    identicon
    Kurt Bellman, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    It's February 4, 2009 and today is the day! The House will vote for the delay today and the President will sign it, and all of you "techno-weenies" can just DEAL WITH IT!

    The airwaves belong to "We The People". It's about time we ALL start remembering it and acting that way. And when I say "We The People", that means the least well-served among us, not just the technically advantaged.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    identicon
    marlane, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    dtv

    no more sex on sofa in front of tv! know why? they're watching us!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    blueeyeleo, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Missing people

    I am one of that thousands crowd in rural america. Yes there is hundreds of people near me that have NO tv now that they switched. I live in a place that has quite a few tornados during the summer months. The radio stations are useless in this area for weather also. I am just waiting on the first lawsuit over not being able to get local weather updates since we are all without tv.

    I have already raised a stink and wrote emails and letters to all our congress people for my state and more need to follow suit. I have also been giving them you know what on the FCC hotline LOL heck I dont have tv some my entertainment now is to annoy the ones that left me with out tv :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    blueeyeleo, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Re: Missing people

    I dont have access to cable for my local weather either and of course satellite isnt too helpful for weather updates since everytime it rains a little it goes out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    JustMe, Jun 12th, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Yes, rural America will miss out

    And not to mention the elderly that dont have 100 to 200 bucks to put up a tower and a high output antenna. And also the many 100s around here that are losing jobs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    BJ Gano, Jun 13th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re: Digital Conversion

    Are you aware that there are people who were once able to receive analog channels who now have NO reception because the digital channels are not broadcast far enough. Digital signals are weaker than analog so folks in an area without cable have no recourse. I spoke with a network representative from Cleveland NBC station and they said they cannot boost power or relay to fringe areas. No one told the American people that they might lose signals of stations they have viewed for over 50 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This