Senate Delays Digital TV Transition; Will The Situation Be Any Different In June?

from the doubtful dept

It still makes little sense to us to delay the digital TV switchover beyond February 17th. The switch has already been delayed for nearly a decade, and anyone who doesn't know about it yet isn't likely to know about it when June roles around either. Yet, for political expediency, it looks like the Senate has approved plans to move the transition back to June (the House still needs to vote on this, but it seems likely to pass), which will end up slowing the rollout of various wireless services, thereby harming most consumers a lot more than this helps them. Hopefully, in June, politicians don't roll over again and push back the date again.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    american, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 2:58am

    i hate obama already.

     

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  2.  
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    Twinrova, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 4:00am

    This isn't surprising news at all.

    Once again, the United States government does something which goes against the public opinion and, instead, caters to the 1% who don't even own a television.

    Good thing many cable broadcasters are telling the government to shove it, as they're switching regardless of the deadline.

    Sadly, billions will be wasted with this delay which is not a good thing to do as many jobs just vanished when they're desperately needed by people.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 4:56am

    Maybe it is because the Government screwed up with their coupon program. I know of someone that got coupons back in September, but didn't try to redeem them until this month. She didn't realize they had a 90 day expiration on them, and was turned away when trying to pick up the digital converter boxes.

    I myself have cable, and if worse came to worst, I have an LCD TV with a built in HD tuner, so I could care less. However, I'll bet most of those who got coupons, didn't realize there was an expiration date on them. On top of that, how the heck can the Government not have the tracking ability to not know if a coupon that expired over a month ago, has not been used. Apparently, if you have been issued a coupon, and didn't use it before the expiration, you're out of luck, because the Government will not issue you another.

     

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  4.  
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    Haywood, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:03am

    Obamanation

    If they push it back to 3009 the same percentage will not be ready.

     

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  5.  
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    NullOp, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:10am

    Ready or not...

    The switchover has been only slightly less publizised than "Who shot JR!" Now you tell me someone is 'not ready.' There will ALWAYS be someone not ready. And just for the record i'm "not ready" to permit companies to lay off workers and bonus the top brass!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    I know! How could that horrid man push the Senate to delay the switch to digital! I say we impeach him!

     

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  7.  
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    Haywood, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:43am

    The cost and confusion.

    Countless companies have made decisions predicated on a date certain and now
    the government is poised to muck it up.

    * Many municipalities have contracted to switch over to new frequencies on
    Feb 18th and de-activate their existing emergency transmitters. Workers are
    poised to re-equip police cars, ambulances, and the like. Technicians have
    been hired and trained to accomplish the change-over on a specific date.

    * Other companies are ready to market services using the freed-up bands.
    They won't be able to do so for three months. The payments on their loans
    for new equipment won't be delayed, but their anticipated revenue will be
    zero.

    Bottom line: There is a significant cost to hundreds of companies and
    governmental agencies. Some emergency services may even go off the air as
    the people to whom a city sold their (supposedly redundant) equipment demand
    access to THEIR equipment.

    Suppose I borrowed $10 million to buy the city of Chicago's police radios
    and in turn sold them all to the government of Costa Rico. The contract with
    Costa Rico specifies delivery by March 30th. I've contracted with technicans
    to disassemble and pack the existing equipment by March 1st, deliver it to a
    shipping company by March 3rd for transit on a ship that departs Chicago for
    Costa Rico on March 5th. I've already paid the city of Chicago for the
    equipment, paid salaries to the technicians, posted a deposit to the
    shipping company, etc.

    Now the government says: "Time out?"

    I'm screwed.

    Effective commerce cannot efficiently exist based on governmental whim.

     

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  8.  
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    Azuravian, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Re: The cost and confusion.

    Actually, in your example wouldn't the city of Chicago be screwed. I would hope that in your contract, you specified a date that the equipment would be handed over to you, therefore on that date, Chicago would have to hand over equipment that they still need.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:17am

    Re: The cost and confusion.

    Um. Your example is fucking retarded. Costa Rica can use the same exact frequencies all they want. They probably do. This is an internal issue. I just really can't believe how incredibly stupid your example is.

    Oh, your point is valid and up until then you were good. But man! Choose a better example next time.

     

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  10.  
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    american2, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    Here we go again...stupid Americans blaming every decision they don't like on one person.

     

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  11.  
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    DS78, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Indecision

    This shows the lack of balls that the government has. Regardless of party affiliation. Step up boys and make the switch. All the money we've spent. Awareness is somewhere above 90% now. If you're not aware of the switch you probably don't own a TV (ITS EVERYWHERE). The people who failed to act can spend their own money and get a converter box. LETS DO THIS ALREADY

     

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  12.  
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    limaxray, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: The cost and confusion.

    Umm, actually his example is a very real example of what is actually happening - he may actually been dealing with this very situation. A lot of wireless communication gear has been bought and sold because of this transition and delaying will hurt a large number of people. Most notably are public safety agencies who are getting large chunks of this freed up spectrum- large cities have sold off a lot of their old gear to smaller cities and other countries because they are rolling out new unified public safety wireless networks.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Re: Obamanation

    Nah the percentage will drop slowly as older TV's go out of service and are replaced. Of course I still have the set that my wife bought to watch the winter Olympics when she was in college in 1986 and that one still works fine.

    The problem is that lots of areas are no longer served by the over the air signal when the switch really happens.

     

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  14.  
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    Jaycee, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    congress, roll back digital tv.

    The change you have been waiting for?

     

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  15.  
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    BinaryRock, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    I just don't get the hold up. What's the point of pushing the date back? Anyone who isn't ready probably has no business watching TV anyway.

     

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  16.  
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    Rob, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    I got one of the vouchers for an older TV and it says in huge print on the materials it comes with that you must you it within 90 days or it'll be canceled and a replacement will not be issued. They even provide online retailers and brick and mortar stores where the vouchers are accepted for convenience sake.

    Maybe they want to ensure that they don't have millions of dollars in vouchers sitting around never being used. That might actually make sense.

     

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  17.  
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    DeathsPal, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    I Have to agree the coupon program was a bust. Where I live (Semi urban area) all of the stores were out of boxes when I got my coupons.... I Was unable to buy one before they expired. I contacted the FCC office that handles the coupons and told them about it and they said they would resend some. Now I'm on a waiting list because they ran out of funds.

    FCC=Failed Communication Commission....

     

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  18.  
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    Jeff (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re:

    Don't put us all in that basket.

     

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  19.  
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    Jeff (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    This is not Obama's doing. I have discussed this very issue 6 - 12 months ago with colleagues. We knew it would be pushed back, yet again.

     

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  20.  
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    Sergio, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    Don't wait

    My area (RI) has been pretty progressive with the DTV swtich, in fact, CW went Digital only about a month ago. I've gone ahead and disabled all the analog stations on all my HDTVs since everything seems to be coming in at full power now. I hope all the other local stations here keep with the original February 17th date. They've been telling people for months that it's February 17th and they should stick to that.

    It will just confuse more people if they turn on their TV on the 18th and still see something. They may incorrectly interpret that as being DTV ready.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re: The cost and confusion.

    Amen Amen and Amen.

    What is more important, public safety or TV? The reconfiguration has been a massive effort (see http://www.800ta.org/ ) and now broadcasters are going to be allowed to continue to clog the new public safety spectrum?

    On the public side, the Transition Administrator has been browbeating everyone to get this done. This switch is completely and utterly ridiculous.

     

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  22.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re:

    I assume you have heard of the internet since you are posting on it. You can find superior converter boxes on the internet at equal or better prices even when you include the shipping.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Re: This isn't surprising news at all.

    Um,
    Quote Twinrova;
    "Good thing many cable broadcasters are telling the government to shove it, as they're switching regardless of the deadline."

    What? That statement is nonsensical. The "cable broadcasters" don't use public spectrum, they use wires to distribute their signal (and the satellite TV industry has been digital for years).
    The DTV transition does NOT require cable companies to do anything.

    However MANY of the cable companies are using the confusion caused by the transition to digital to fake (some call it defraud) their customers into more expensive "digital cable" plans.

    Twinrova, have you been confused by comcast or do you work for them?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    Maybe it is because the Government screwed up with their coupon program. I know of someone that got coupons back in September, but didn't try to redeem them until this month. She didn't realize they had a 90 day expiration on them, and was turned away when trying to pick up the digital converter boxes.

    And that was a government screw-up!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    sajjon, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: The cost and confusion.

    LoL, Try reading/comprehending what is being stated above and you may realize you completely missed the point and may require some reading comprehension classes. (and make sure you are not the idiot before flaming somone)

     

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  26.  
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    FredW, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    It is about the Presidency

    Who would want to be the president who 2 weeks after being in office takes television away from 20% of the country. It does not matter if the new president was Republican or Democrat. You could see this one coming on for a long time.

     

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  27.  
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    Only one thing. . ., Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    This is about. . .

    Democrats gaining/holding on to the votes of low income/education families. If the Dems say, "Go ahead with the transition" and their constituents lose the capability to watch television then a) they will complain about their democrat representative and b) they will not have any way to preach to them about Obama's greatness/spin how he's raping their liberties into a positive thing.

     

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  28.  
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    River Rat, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    I smell a rat

    Smells like a campaign contribution payback

     

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  29.  
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    Dave, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    More time to stop this travesty

    Pushing back the date gives us more time to orgainize and file a lawsuit to stop this attack on the general public. The real reason they are pushing for this is because they want to be able to DRM all broadcasts. The FCC is complacent because they see the opportunity to make big money selling the freed spectrum.

     

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  30.  
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    Joe, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:27am

    anyone who doesn't know about this isn't watching broadcast tv

    The real issue in my opinion is cable providers ads trying to get non-cable subscribers to subscribe due to the digital transition. Anyone who hasnt' seen ads or read about this is living in a bubble and not watching tv.

    I say push on and when their tv's don't work and they call their manufacturer/store asking about their product make sure those people are informed so they can explain what happened in lamens terms.

     

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  31.  
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    Lawrence, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    Delaying is stupid

    There are several reason people haven't gone out to buy converters.

    1. With the Downturn in economy and even with a coupon, people won't easily spend to buy the converter unless absolutely necessary.
    2. Quite a few people have cable boxes, or wired cable so there is no need for the converter box.
    3. In some areas where maybe you could use converter box, you probably get a total of 3 digital channels right now or some digital stations are a "flea" power, meaning they have digital broadcast, but it only ranges like 15 miles.
    4. What the gov't should do, but can't do, is make digital stations broadcast at a decent wattage so consumers will get a multitude of stations instead of like 3. But that's more a result of stations not wanting to upgrade digital broadcasts because the OTA broadcasts are probably a small percentage of people in comparison to cable.

     

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  32.  
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    limaxray, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: More time to stop this travesty

    No, the real reason for it is it frees up huge amounts of wasted spectrum so:

    a) wireless carriers can roll out the next generation of wireless services
    b) fire, ambulance, and police at the municipal, state and federal levels can all actually communicate with each other using a national public safety wireless network

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re:

    Actually the government will release up to 2 coupons per household so even if they won't replace an expired coupon, a household can get a second.

    I'm iffy on this delay but the availability of converter boxes in my area has been almost zero until December 08 so I can see where some people have genuinely been unable to prepare properly. Me, I bought an indoor antenna because all this hype made me realize I didn't need cable at all to get local channels because my TV is already digital. : )

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:35am

    I support transition to digital for many of the reasons expressed here and on technical sites discussing the pros and cons of digital versus analog. Unfortunatley, I have noted a downside to some digital signals. Analog signals that I previously was able to pick up from local stations do not get through when in digital form. From my experience this is one area that needs further refinement.

    Otherwise, I have found that the digital signals I do pick up are superior in quality on the screen than is the case with many analog signals.

     

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  35.  
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    ted, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re: This is about. . .

    I understand why people who view everything in a partisan way want to make this a partisan action, but it isn't a Democratic push - the delay passed _unanimously_ in the Senate (that's right, all the Republicans voted for it too...)

    For the record, I disagree vehemently with the delay, but I think it is happening because _all_ politicians are afraid of offending voters.

     

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  36.  
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    Joel, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    4G LTE

    AT&T and Verizon are the major companies who came out of the 700 mhz auction with a chunk of the spectrum and they are on board with this digital TV delay. They are on board not because people can't get the vouchers from the government but because it makes no business sense to build, test and operate a new network in a recession when the majority of people will not be paying the premium price that the new 4G network will cost when it rolls out. Instead they opted to "look" like they were helping the average American get an extra $40 bucks while at the same time delaying the expense of building the infrastructure of a new network.

    Additionally, the $6 billion for broadband that is in the new stimulus is for "open" networks, the sort that Verizon is trying now where the "approved" devices are mostly broadband data cards. When every major provider in the US is offering LTE as the network then "open" won't mean anything anymore and the providers get to walk away with $6 billion that they wouldn't have, except of course Sprint who is sinking faster than a rock in water.

     

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  37.  
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    Mr. Magoo, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    @Anonymous Coward (4:56am)
    How is it the government's fault that your friend didn't realize the coupons have a 90 day expiration on them? It's displayed prominently on the front of the cards. Yes, it was dumb of the government to have these expire within 90 days, but it was irresponsible of your friend not to pay attention to the rules. Now the government is going to moddle-coddle her and others like her, causing more confusion and delays to something which should have been completed years ago.

     

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  38.  
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    JMB, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Once again, we baby folks. If you didn't know there was a switch to DTV happening then you are either dead or living on an island somewhere where you could probably care less about TV (I know I would!!!). Cut the friggin' umbilical and get on with it. There may be 6 million that aren't ready now but do you really think that number will be reduced by June.....No. The same lazy people who have put it off until know are grateful they can put it off until June and then they'll whine and cry they aren't ready in June.

    Forget about 'em.....move on. They'll eventually catch up. If they don't, then we've started culling the herd.

     

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  39.  
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    Alex, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    DTV

    As I've said before - The people are as ready as they will ever be.

    The technology isn't, but no one will realize that until the change has been forced.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Johnny Canada, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    The major cable companies (Shaw / Rogers) in Canada have been running ads stating in CANADA you have to do nothing if you are watching TV via CABLE.

    So if 30 million people in a foriegn country (Canada) know about the U.S. change how can Americans not know or be ready for it?

     

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  41.  
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    PRMan, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:53am

    I wondered about this...

    I wondered about this from the first time I heard about the switch. How could they put the switch in the middle of "sweeps". That is the WORST possible week for TV stations.

    Moving the switch to June was done for the sake of the networks and media companies, so that it's right in the middle of reruns.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    As I've said before - The people are as ready as they will ever be.

    The technology isn't, but no one will realize that until the change has been forced.

    Please remove foot from mouth. The technology is ready.
    It's been ready for a long, long, long, long (still going...) long, time. Idiot.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Johnny Canada, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Re: I wondered about this...

    Middle of ReRuns

    Reruns start the week of your Thanksgiving, for two to three weeks, then again the last week of December to mid January, then again just after Sweeps, and again in April for another two weeks. Then summer until mid October.

    I do not know when they have time to show first run TV shows :)

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    DS, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re:

    Umm, maybe because some of Obama's advisors called for this such a thing?

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    DS, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Re: It is about the Presidency

    "takes television away"??

    Wait, what?

    What's being taken away from who?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    BK, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    7 million are not yet ready for Digital TV?

    They say that delay in switching to digital TV is warranted since 10% of American people are not ready??? May be Mr. Obama should delay becoming a President of this nation for another 4 years since some 27% of Americans are not ready to say good-bye to Bush? I was hoping for evidence of some intelligence, at least at the start of his term!!! Too much to hope for?

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Paul, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Digital TV

    I'm so sick of seeing the commercials and news announcements about the switch. They could have spent the advertising money, converting boxes, wasted government time, and purchase everyone a digital tv with a turning in an analog tv. Who still has these old tvs ?

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Matt T, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: It is about the Presidency

    He's saying that Barack Obama doesn't want to be seen as someone who would "take away" (in this case get rid of their analog signal) television from the 4% of the population that didn't prepare for this. The public opinion backlash would keep him from making a move like this in the first weeks in office. He's not actually taking anything away, but people would look at it like that.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Hmmm

    I've already started seeing Analog TV transmission equipment being sold in the secondary marketplace in preparation for the switch.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Silverwolf, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    No One Seems to have noticed

    No one seems to have noticed the "fine print" of the bill which says that the TV Broadcasters are free to switch early if they want to.

    Really this bill does next to nothing to extend the cut-off date unless the broadcasters just want to continue in analog (which it's my understanding most of them do not).

    The only good point of this bill is that households with expired cupons can re-apply for new ones (they could not before)

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    John, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 3:03pm

    So much for broadband for everyone...

    This pushes back the open whitespace thing right? Doesn't that whitespace have the potential for wide area wireless network/internet access? Couldn't this whitespace help the "broadband for everyone" idea Obama was pushing?

    So, why is my local paper claiming that pushing back DTV is a win for Obama? Wouldn't this would hurt his "broadband for everyone" idea.

    (disclaimer, I may be totally incorrect on whitespace potential. If I am, I'm wrong. So, don't throw a fit.)

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Silverwolf, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re: So much for broadband for everyone...

    I think the whitespace is the area in between other transmissions. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have anything to do with the analog tv cut-off.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_space_(telecommunications)

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    John, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: So much for broadband for everyone...

    Oh. I thought part of the deal with the DTV switch is that there would be less "bleed" into the whitespace. Thereby allowing the whitespace to be used for other stuff.

    ...actually, check the wikipedia article. I think it says that under White space devices. ::shrug::

     

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  54.  
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    Clueby4, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Public Safety ...please

    Public Safety, my your gullible aren't you.

    Try FCC revenue, they got their money, so delay or no delay they're happy.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    MDMHM, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Remember Seniors & Not all areas getting digital signal

    Tried to help my 80 yr old grandparents get ready. Got coupon & bought box, hooked up & only able to get PBS, all other channels lost. Store recommended new wire to antenna, no help. Store recommended new HDTV antenna, no help.

    All channels but PBS constant pixelate so unwatchable. Out $200 & a day's time. 80 yr old people don't care about high-def. They just want basic TV. They get all the major networks with analog. They will be forced to a cheap cable package or watch PBS only. They said they will stop watching TV in Feb before signing any cable contracts.

    Our generation wants clearer pictures & surrond sound. Their generation is concerned with saving money for food, medical, & utilities. Please remember the older generation of Americans that will be left without TV programming. Doesn't sound like much, but when you are unable to drive & seperated from the news of the world, you become isolated & depressed.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Jdubs, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Re: This isn't surprising news at all.

    Cable companies have been digital for a quite some time now. That that the box is all about.

     

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