TV Stations Say Thanks, But No Thanks To Analog Switch Delay

from the anarchy-on-the-airwaves! dept

As was widely expected, Congress voted last week to delay the switch-off of analog TV signals, sort of. It did move the hard deadline of February 17 until June 12, but it is also allowing TV stations to switch off their analog broadcasts any time before then, and many stations say they’ll do so as soon as they can, beginning next week. Over a third of the nation’s TV stations plan to move ahead with the switch, as planned, eager to shed the additional cost of broadcasting both in digital and in analog. So instead of a hard deadline, some stations will drop off of the analog air next week, others not until June, and others somewhere in between — a situation that hardly seems easier to understand for the confused and lost among us that the delay was supposed to help. Furthermore, how does this sort of staggered transition help sort out the converter box coupon mess?

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Comments on “TV Stations Say Thanks, But No Thanks To Analog Switch Delay”

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58 Comments
Bob says:

Re: TV Stations Say Thanks, But No Thanks To Analog Switch Delay

I was ready 10 months ago, but that didn’t change the fact that DTV is essentially “weaker” and will not show up at all on some channels that I can receive via analog. I said so-long to ABC yesterday when they switched. Gee, thanks, govert for auctioning off thes freqs.

Thom says:

Phhttt...

I’ve stated time and again that you’re vastly underestimating the number of rural American’s who will lose most, if not all, television when the changeover is complete.

Our local market is covered by stations for each of the major networks, pbs, and a couple smaller networks. None, and I mean NONE, of those stations have anywhere near the same coverage area with their digital signal as their analog. Hell, even their analog signals don’t cover everyone. I grew up 35 miles from where I live, atop a hill at that, and we had to have a 45ft tower to recieve more than one station clear enough to watch. You have to go another 35 miles or more before you start picking up the more powerful stations in the next nearest market.

Cable helps a small percentage of those, but in rural areas it goes down often during incliment weather. It only takes one fallen tree to cut out the signal to thousands in storm. Satellite helps a few more, but it goes out in bad weather when it’s needed most, it requires line of sight that doesn’t work reliably in heavily wooded areas. Not only that, but both of these cost money that many rural customers can’t afford, and with satellite you’re stuck paying extra for “local” channels and you’re forced to take the channels that the satellite company determines are your local channels – which for fringe users may not carry the stations that truly cover your news and weather.

Can this be addressed by increasing power output on digital? Yes. Will it? Probably, eventually. Will large numbers of people lose access to needed news and weather for extended periods while this happens? I’d bet on it.

On the coupon mess… I’m waiting for news that the system has been gamed. Someone has bought or stolen the list of consumers who received coupons and didn’t redeem them, or they just guessed or otherwise forged the needed paperwork, and they’ve been repaid huge sums by our government for faked sales. They will have have long past absconded with the money before the fraud is detected… and it’ll probably turn out that a 5yr old could have looked at the paperwork and determined something was wrong.

Thom says:

Re: Re: Phhttt...

Radio doesn’t display radar. Radio is mostly automated. Radio doesn’t have it’s own local weathermen watching the radar and warnings and keeping you up to date. Radio doesn’t continuously scroll through lists of dozens to hundreds of local businesses and schools that are closed and delayed. Radio also doesn’t bother to cut into those, largely automated, shows very often during thunderstorm seaons – only during major winter storms.

I should know, most of our region just suffered an ice storm. We were without power for a week, as were tens of thousands, with temps so cold that the toilet water was freezing. Others still don’t have power after more than two weeks. All we had was an AM radio and the information largely sucked compared to what we normally get on television. The only advantage was the occassional live caller reporting a store where they’d just taken delivery of more heaters, generators, or kerosene.

I rather suspect you haven’t listened to AM radio in the past decade and that you don’t live anywhere that sees severe storms roll through.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re: Re: Phhttt...

Have you ever heard of a weather radio? It broadcasts specific information on weather and outputs weather alerts from NOAA and NWS. Local weathermen are not the ones putting out the warnings, they just take what they get from the NWS. These radios cost something like $20 if not free. And then what is stopping you from looking out the window if you want real time updates. As for regular AM/FM radio is pretty good at releasing severe weather details out here where severe storms pass quite frequently.

pvillese says:

Re: Phhttt...

The switch over will actually help rural citizens in the end. Once the analog signals are stopped they can increase the power used to broadcast the digital signals and use there larger analog towers for there digital signals as well. The advantage of digital over analog is that if you got the channel in fuzzy before you will get it in clear after the switch since digital will either work or not work, no in between sort of usable signal.

Also all that needed info that you claim is only on TV during a storm is available over radio waives usually via regular radio stations or weather radio. I know when I lived in the country and got one TV station in, (our only TV option was satellite and we couldn’t afford it) we had two weather radios to get the needed info during storms.

Thom says:

Re: Re: Phhttt...

We have to cut down our trees to get line of sight to the satellite, plus we have to pay $40+ a month, just to get satellite service with the local channels that we could get for free before. That’s my problem. Of course, if you could read as good as most hillbillies I know then you would’ve read that in the post you responded too. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Phhttt...

Of course if you could read, you would know that dish network is offering a special plan for people affected by the digital changeover. with locals, it’s only $16 a month, so take your bleeding liveral heart elsewhere, you have been given plenty of time and plenty of options. Move along, nothing to see here.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Phhttt...

I’ve stated time and again that you’re vastly underestimating the number of rural American’s who will lose most, if not all, television when the changeover is complete.

And I’ll say this yet again, the very worst that will happen is that some people won’t be able to watch broadcast TV. Big fricken deal.

Have you watched broadcast news recently? Please tell me what you’ve learned from Katie Couric and your local Action 7 News team? And you honestly think we need TV weather broadcasts to tell us when dangerous storms are coming?

Thom says:

Re: Re: Phhttt...

Again… radar and current up-to the minute weather by a meterologist that is monitoring approaching storms. Local radio doesn’t have that. LOCAL news that applies to us.

You may live in an area where you can see storms coming for miles. I don’t. We have hills. Even on days where thunderstorms have been forecast as likely a storm can hit within minutes of the storm clounds becoming visible. We rural folk have fields we have to work in, not all of us work in factories, office buildings, or homes. We can’t sit inside in leisure on a day that it might storm. I’ve been in the field working, seen the storm clouds over the trees, and not had time to walk to the house 150yds away before I was pelted by hail.

Local tv, with it’s radar, let us know where the storms are, how bad, which ones will likely hit and likely miss, where the hail is, what the track of the tornado is, where the lightening is bad, when we need to take cover, how long we can stay out, and so on. Radio rarely does any of that. It’s too general or too automated.

Get outta your pond mr fish, you’ll learn that a vast number of people have different needs than you do.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re: Re: Phhttt...

Around here the big networks each have a secondary channel that is local weather 24/7. Not just the commercial break updates or banners that are typical. Wait, you can only get the secondary channels with a digital tuner. Sorry! If TV is that important to rural folks then they should consider becoming city slickers. Every decision you make has its good or bad. I guess living in the silence and solitude away from the hustle and bustle and sirens is just the trade-off for not getting TV for free.

Micheál says:

Not all bad

This may not actually be that bad a thing. You just know that most of the people who aren’t yet prepared for the switch won’t do anything until they can’t watch ‘Idol’.

At least those who, incredibly, haven’t heard about the switch yet may now realise they need to do something when they start losing some networks. To me, it’s preferable to them losing everything in one go on a hard deadline.

On another note, I wonder how the staggered switch off will effect the ratings and consequent advertising rates?

Anonymous12 says:

Re: Not all bad

So you basically live in the middle of nowhere. You already concede that your traditional analog coverage was sparse.
Yet you still expect the same coverage as those in more populated areas?

You sound like a big whinning complainer, and if that’s the best you argument you have, good luck.

uncleFester says:

Re: Re: Not all bad

So you basically live in the middle of nowhere. You already concede that your traditional analog coverage was sparse.
Yet you still expect the same coverage as those in more populated areas?

ok, I’ll bite on this one (from the perspective of my folks who live in more-rural area than I do). They do not expect the same coverage as those in more populated areas. They expect the same coverage as previously available to them. In this case, this means over-the-air access of the Big-Four networks (ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX, plus the local PBS station). The digital-broadcast coverage map for this area doesn’t match today’s analog-broadcast coverage map so they basically lose programming through no fault of their own (they have the converter boxes).

second (and this is my opinion)… most broadcast licenses for OTA broadcasters includes some sort of verbiage along the lines of “required by law to operate its station in the ‘public interest, convenience and necessity.'” (embedded quote present in cite) So, how is shrinking your coverage area serving the public interest? I understand there is no guarantee in coverage area or level of service.. but let’s not be to willing to simply blame the consumer for being frustrated they had 5 stations today and 3 stations tomorrow.

-r

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Not all bad

This will happen in my area. Two stations are sticking to the February cutoff; FOX and NBC. So there goes ‘Idol’ for those who watch it. There was a piece on the local CBS news that pointed out that the delay could happen anytime and fingered the two stations followed by that they (CBS station) would never abandon their audiences. It is the most liberal slanted, politically correct local broadcast news. I almost expected them to continue analog broadcasts even if the deadline were still February 17th.

Don says:

TV Stations Say Thanks, But No Thanks To Analog Switch Delay

You know, I’m really tired of being governed by the intelligence of the lowest common denominator. Someone, don’t know who, decided Feb 17 was the cutover. Fine. Multiple ads ran, information was included in newspapers, and still, the idiots who can’t seem to find the time to pick up their “free” converter box now have the MIC’s (morons in charge, congress & pres), extending a deadline that needs no extension. The same people will not be ready in June that aren’t ready now. Congress needs to grow a spine.
Thom; I don’t see more time solving your issue. The US has one of the worst TV broadcast systems in the world, but only because it was the first. Finally some sort of upgrade to improve the system and we’re hollering about an inconvenience. Rural areas will ALWAYS have that issue. Hell, I live in the San Fernando Valley, in a rural area. I look down on 1.6 MILLION people, and I don’t have cable or DSL available to me. We had to opt for satellite TV and satellite Internet. Our “secondary” TV’s not on Sat we got the converter boxes for. A $10 antenna at Target and *poof* we were in business with now about 60 channels in place of the 20 we had, and of those 20, only about 12 were watchable due to poor quality. Now, all are clear as a bell. PEOPLE NEED TO START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES.. Get off your Ass, get the converter, hook it up and shut up.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

I used to work for a PBS affiliate and asked a friend there if his station planned on waiting. The reply was an emphatic “no.” He went on to say that every PBS station he’s heard from plans on going forward on the 17th.

The reason is simple: It’s already been budgeted for the 17th.

To delay the switch means to allocate money that does not exist, or to reallocate money from somewhere else. So unless the broadcaster has money laying around to burn, they’ll make the switch.

ed says:

I have an idea, lets give the government more power

I think pretty much everyone expected this delay to be a failure. What I don’t understand are the people who want to give the government more power and extend their reach into more areas. Time and again, the government has proven that it is the least capable entity. Why are people so anxious to extend its infuence?

Mr. Magoo says:

On the Coupon Mess,

I think that this ‘mess’ in entirely government created. It is only because of government interference that converter boxes cost $50 – $60. If it weren’t for the $40 coupon, these boxes would be available for $10 and up. Essentially the end cost to the consumer is the same, but the government has created a situation where consumers are dependent on government handouts to get the product. I would bet money that if the government would just let the coupon program die out, then after the products which are currently in the pipeline get sold, you would see the price of converter boxes drop by $40. However, in that case the government would not get the credit for ‘helping’ out consumers.

WHEN OH WHEN says:

When will people get it?? The Government sucks at EVERYTHING THEY DO! Yet people are constantly asking it to do more and more. This cut over is a mess, and Obama’s pandering to the retards, illegals, and morons of this country with this ONE simple thing…proves we’re doomed.

And they want our Government to manage our health care??

They can’t even manage a $40 coupon. Scary.

frmr antenna designer says:

not for the broadcasters

The delay is not for the broadcasters, they have been ready for years. This is the FCC’s 3rd attempt to implement DTV, and a few equipment makers went under waiting for the rush on digital equipment that never came.

The FCC and congress severely underestimated how many homes might be effected. They also didn’t account for how many cable customers would be duped into getting a coupon and a box that they didn’t even need.

The problem is that the consumer is beyond broke, and no one in government wants to give the appearance of forcing the consumer to spend.

Ucidalin says:

And this is important enough to budget congresses time why?

With all the problems affecting the country economically, why are we wasting congresses time with this?
I think their time would better be put to use dealing with creating jobs.
I know here in Michigan, a lot of us would just be happy to have a job to afford the TV or converter box to watch these stations.

Ucidalin says:

Re: Re: And this is important enough to budget congresses time why?

I agree totally with that Anonymous Coward, but that is only a deflection from the topic here.
Can anyone explain why something as trivial as discussing a delay over this issue that will only affect maybe 6% of a population?
I mean if you have not heard about the transition yet, you do not watch enough TV to be concerned about it.

Overcast says:

And they want our Government to manage our health care??

They can’t even manage a $40 coupon. Scary.

I have found that few; if any, of the people that support ‘Government Health Care’ have ever had to use Medicaid or Medicare or have ever been to a government run clinic.

Now; I’m not bashing the doctors, they have some very fine medical professionals in the system. But, the ‘system’ itself sucks and sucks bad. Long waits; insistence on doing the ‘cheapest’ medical tests first – even if there is a suspicion that the more expensive one will provide an answer faster. Cold, uncaring administration staff, waiting rooms packed with out of control children, not much flexibility on appointment times.. I could go on.

I’ve been there, done that; and private insurance, with all of it’s greed is still quite a step up from Government care.

Government care will remove just about any incentive for competition because you lower the bar to the lowest common denominator.

I guess the saying stands true: “You get what you pay for.”

There’s a reason economies flourish under a free-market system and falter badly under a socialist system. The only reason some socialist economies even do marginally well is because they are latching onto the back of free-market systems. China and the US are fantastic examples of just that – heck, keep it even closer and just compare China’s mainland with Taiwan.

If history isn’t enough to convince people, I can’t say anything is.

Anonymous12 says:

@Uncle Fester: I agree with your opinion to a large extent.
If it is the case that they will (for a small time window), not get the same digital coverage as had under analog coverage, then they need to bring it to the attention of local government, state government, and federal government officials. I’m not saying spend a lot of time on it.
I’m saying go to the local library, and fire off three e-mails (they do have libraries right, and cars to drive to them in?). The point is, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Also a lot of people are putting the blame on government, when they are completely uninvolved in their own elderly, poor person’s life. Instead of helping our fellow human (your parents for example only), we hide behind it being the “government’s” job. Should the government have to send someone out to hook up the converter box? Is it really their fault? The point is, you have to draw the line somewhere. Complaining only gets you so far. Take action, or tough luck. That’s how life always has, and always will be.End rant.

WolfWitch says:

Lazy...

I have to agree with everyone else who has said it (I’ve posted similar rants elsewhere). The lazy-asses who just ignored all of the commercials and ads for the last two years are no more likely to be ready in June than they are now.

And to all the rural folks arguing their needs- what difference does it make? The four-month delay just delays the inevitable, and doesn’t help your situation at all.

One thing to keep in mind- many stations will be operating at a reduced signal strength until the final cutoff date, because they can’t operate at full power at their assigned frequency until then. So- you might have less trouble once the actual cutoff happens.

The problem now is- since a lot of stations are switching before the “real” cutoff time- their coverage area will be reduced until June. So- potentially the whiners that wanted a delay screwed themselves for four months.

Rick says:

I am REALLY Annoyed

I don’t have any televisions with analog tuners anymore. So, I’m in an even worse situation than the people who have no idea what’s going on. I was expecting things to be ok next Tuesday, but now I have to go without my local channels for another 4 MONTHS!
There are 5 channels available in our area. CBS and FOX both have digital signals I can receive. NBC and ABC do not, as there are hills blocking the signal. They do have an alternative tower that wouyld be able to get a signbal to me, but it is being used for their analog signal – and now it will continue to be used until June for that analog signal.

Where is my anlaog to digital convertor box? Oh, they don’t exist – screw me!

F U Congress!

fat Tony says:

Everyone here has a better tool

I have lived around the world. I have seen where weather changes 40 degrees in a matter of hours. Rain coming from a sunny sky, snow coming 18 inches in a day, and wind creating hazards out of ordinary everyday objects.
TV and radio are, in general, poor to mediocre at predicting a majority of weather.
I stopped watching tv after I was told by 3 friendly neighborhood weathermen that there was gonna be a light rain; within hours there had been 6 inches of rain, a flash flood, and winds that prevented me from stopping my car from floating into a bridge.
I have since figured out that the internet (which I assume many of you have used before) has access to the same if not better equipment than that of my local weather swami.
I won’t be making the switch over to digital. No need.

There is nothing on tv ANYONE requires to live.

Provided you live in an area that isn’t riddled with god’s love.(tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, deadly winter storms)
If you do live in those areas, not only is that what you get…but the internet could have told you that better than your local news anyway.

Jen A from Comcast says:

Info on DTV Options

Even though the official date for the transition has changed, what you need to do to get ready for the transition hasn’t.

Anyone with a TV that uses rabbit ears or a roof top antenna to get reception and isn’t sure about what to do might want to check out http://www.comcast.com/dtv. The site has helpful information on all three DTV solutions – signing up for cable, buying a new TV or getting a converter box.

fat Tony says:

To make matters worse

For even better news, The FCC is PREVENTING channels from changing over.
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-7A1.pdf

Unless this is an EXTREMELY elaborate hoax, the government is standing in the way of business “for the children” aka stupid people of America. Those that can’t be bothered to go get a box or couldn’t go out of the way to get internet access. or a weather radio…

I believe that may be a tad out of the governments legitimate reach. If I want to broadcast information I am required by the FCC to get a license…then if they don’t like what I am airing they can fine/revoke me.
Telling me I cannot upgrade MY equipment…that my friends is fascism. (or totalitarianism, whichever makes the hair on your neck stand up)

Jack Bauer says:

govt will never fix ANYTHING

where did this idea that the government has to take care of everyone ever come about? we are turning into a socialist country…its ridiculous. This is the beginning of the end of this country and I fear it is already too late. All these people thinking they are owed something, like a coupon for a free converter. Solve your OWN problems people…remember that? did you ever learn how to solve a problem or was that taken away by our government too via the public school system? I know lets hang around and smoke government grown pot until our brains atrophy like in Amsterdam and become like them, a stagnant insignificant European country. Just ridiculous…this whole coupon program is a waste of taxpayer dollars just like everything else. And then they come to us for MORE money to reward and give away to companies and people whose bad decisions and judgments got them there. I read an article that people are getting coupons and then getting their free box just because they hear about this and are TOO FREAKIN STUPID to understand it so they go and get the box when they don’t even need it. A good 50% of this country is FREAKIN dummies and morons. RIDICULOUS.

Jan says:

Can be bad!!!

I live in a rural area and have 1 digital tv and also an older tv with converter box. I can’t get the channels and have been told that once all the channels change to digital
I will probably on get 2-3 stations and they aren’t even good stations… I’m just waiting to see what happens.. I have an outside antenna and can now get NBC,ABC,CBS, and Fox but may loose those when they go digital.

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