A Few Million Homes Still Aren't Ready For Digital TV Transition… But Don't Let That Stop It

from the bring-it-on dept

The transition to digital TV, and the shutdown of analog broadcasts, is set to finally go ahead on June 12, after a four-month delay was put into place by Congress. The delay capped off a process that’s been pretty bungled from the outset, though things seem to have mostly come together over the last couple of months. Still, though, stories emerge about the 3 million or so homes that aren’t ready for the transition, despite the time and money that’s been spent on informational campaigns about it. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see these stories largely unaccompanied by calls for further delays. The number of unprepared homes has fallen by half since the delay was announced in February, and a good way to get most of the rest (assuming they actually care) to follow would seem to be to go ahead and flip the switch. At this point, if people haven’t caught on, perhaps it’s the only way to get them to do so. And just in case any Techdirt readers are in that 2.8 million, hit dtv.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC to get info and/or help.

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Comments on “A Few Million Homes Still Aren't Ready For Digital TV Transition… But Don't Let That Stop It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Survey

I am not prepared.
I have a battery operated analog TV not connected to cable that I use when the cable connected TV isn’t working (disaster planning, travel, power outage, cable failure) and my intent is to wait until there are enough coupons available for those who don’t have cable, a box that costs no more than the coupon offers, and evidence that I can actually receive a digital signal here in the crater where I live.
That last condition means I need to wait for the changeover to test (using the larger cable-connected digital TV to scan for reception) whether it is worth the effort of converting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Survey

Totally not ready. As of the switch over I will not be able to watch TV. I have no satellite, no cable, FIOS does not have the TV service enabled.

1. I don’t believe it will stay switched, but accept there is a high probability I am wrong.

2. I am insulted that the gov. should in anyway give people money for the switch over. TV is a choice not a right.

3. I honestly cannot remember the last year I turned on the TV, except to watch a DVD or Video.

4. The only reason we have a TV is because 2 or 3 times a year we like to sit down and watch a DVD/Video.

So count me in the 3 mill. Of course they could delay for years, I still won’t apply for the coupon, or bother buying a new TV. This delay was a further waste of money, and all because most of the 3 mill are probably like me, we kept the TV from a habit instilled when we were kids, but realized that there was no reason to turn it on (for me that happened when I was 24). I have been hoping for this day to come because it now makes it impossible for me to even accidentally watch TV/see an ad by turning it on when preparing to watch a DVD.

jonny_q says:

Re: Re: Survey

1. Um, yes, yes it will.
2. You’re dumb. The government actually *made* money on the changeover and used some the money to help people transition with a change in public infrastructure. It wasn’t tax money.
3,4. … ok … You’d be even cooler if you said “I don’t even own a tv”

Besides that, if you’re afraid of accidentally watching tv, then why do you have an antenna hooked up? Kinda hard to hard to even accidentally pick up local TV without a piece of metal plugged in there.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Survey

1. The transition from analog to digital is permanent. It will not be switched back for the forseeable future. As the frequencies will be used for other purposes.

2. The government is asking people to buy a new device, it’s only fair that they meet those people in the costs. You can only exchange the coupons for such a device. It’s not free money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Survey

I know that the bandwidth is being used for other purposes, I think it will not meet the needs, and I suspect that terrestrial TV will be back (not to the same level that it exists now of course). Now if that happens in 6 months or 20 years, I don’t know. Of course there is also the issue that Digital TV is not yet at the standards of Terrestrial TV, and if the engineering investment does not occur to make it happen, again we will see a return to the analog form. And as I said I accept that I may be wrong.

There is no right to TV, and governments do not usually support the general populous in providing assistance of this nature through infrastructure changes. It was also pretty much pointless, as evidenced by the _huge_ number of TVs outside houses, waiting for the trash men. And I mean hundreds have been curbed.

The Baker says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:"I suspect that terrestrial TV will be back"

“Terrestrial TV” ???
OTA DTV, Analog TV,Cable and even Hulu are all terrestrial TV, “Terrestrial TV” never went away.

Over The Air Digital Television isn’t satellite based, it is broadcast off of the same earth based towers as the old analog TV.

IF you are interested in extraterrestrial TV please contact the SETI institute. http://www.seti.org

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:"I suspect that terrestrial TV will be back"

Yes yes, very funny. you will, I trust have observed I used the correct form a little later on. I am used to talking about TV in terms of analog broadcasts, Satellite and Cable delivery systems, Terrestrial does not include satellite or Cable (or internet delivered for that matter), so old habits die hard .

LouisvilleKyGuyChecksIn says:

Re: Survey

Well, I’m technically not ready. I recently canceled my satellite TV service because I got tired of paying $70 a month for a bunch of shit nobody wanted to watch. I will need a converter box to receive OTA signals.

Thing is, I don’t really much care, since I get emergency news and info on the radio, non-emergency current affairs type news on the internet, and entertainment through Netflix.

So, yeah, So mine is one of those 3 million unready households. But please don’t hold up the process because of me 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How much did 4 months cost?

According to 2007 US Census results there are approximately 110,692,000 occupied housing units in the United States. Assuming an even distribution of residents it is closer to 3% of the population. I don’t know where they get the “3 million homes” number but I would venture to guess, if for no other reason than to sound like they have important things to do in Congress, they are inflating the number to include homes without any televisions, remote locations with satellite alternatives, maybe even mobile homes, boat residences, log cabins, etc. I also find it hard to believe that up until 4 months ago 6% of the country was still receiving the TV signal via rabbit ears even in the most remote, backwoods parts of the country.

They have to spend our tax dollars on something or they’d have ask for less next year.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Re: How much did 4 months cost?

They really messed up from the beginning if I recall correctly the Gov started talking about the switch back in 1997. If at that time they would have just said any TV manufactured for sale in the US after 1/1/1998 must include a digital tuner.

If that would have happened most of the TVs in use would have no problem translating the signal.

Anonymous Coward says:

There are always some people not ready for the obvious. This isn’t something that snuck up on these people, it has been a long time coming. With set top converter boxes almost being given away, there is no excuse.

Sorry Carlo, but once again you are poorly informed and standing on the wrong side of an issue.

Jason Still (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are always some people not ready for the obvious. This isn’t something that snuck up on these people, it has been a long time coming. With set top converter boxes almost being given away, there is no excuse.

Sorry Carlo, but once again you are poorly informed and standing on the wrong side of an issue.

I’m curious, did you not read anything he wrote, did you read it and not comprehend any of it, or are you just a really, really bad troll?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are always some people not ready for the obvious. This isn’t something that snuck up on these people, it has been a long time coming. With set top converter boxes almost being given away, there is no excuse.

Sorry Carlo, but once again you are poorly informed and standing on the wrong side of an issue.

Hmm. Confused by your comment on this, since you seem to be agreeing with exactly what Carlo said.

Rob (profile) says:

3 million people? Really? We are going to be worried about 1% of the population on this one? They have clearly had more than fair warning at this point, and freeing up that huge chunk of our airwaves will open up all sorts of new possibilities that have the potential to benefit MUCH MORE than 3 million people. Oh, but I forgot, grandma needs to be able to watch Wheel of Fortune, that is much more important…

TX CHL Instructor (profile) says:

Big Whoop.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I discovered that after paying a $35/month cable bill for years, we were watching about one hour per month. Figuring that $35/hour was a bit steep for TV service, we pulled the plug.

Haven’t missed it. One of these days, I need to haul that old 36-inch (CRT) TV set out to the curb, but it’s too heavy to carry by myself…


JAy. says:

Why 3 million is misleading

That 3 million number includes everyone who will lose service on at least one TV as a result of the switch. That includes my father, who probably hasn’t gone 24 hours without watching TV since the 60’s. But he is included because he has one TV (out of the five in his house) that he has decided to not worry about upgrading with a converter box.

Instead, he bought and set up a converter box for the one TV in my house that was previously not ready so that he can watch it the 7 days a year he visits.

neo says:

Build your own antenna for $2.00

Google “Gray-Hoverman” and you’ll find extremely simple plans for a DTV antenna that can be built from construction debris, and works amazingly well. Grandma can keep watching Wheel of Fortune! Yay!

Disclaimer: I haven’t watched TV for about 8 years. I volunteered to build antennae for shut-ins, and the Gray-Hoverman design is perfect for that.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Build your own antenna for $2.00

Is that an “antenna” or a “converter” there is a little bit of a difference. For one, my old rabbit ears work fine for digital. Two, my old rabbit ears will only get digital on my TV downstairs, the TV upstairs that doesn’t have a built in decoder doesn’t work.

Oddly enough, I am ready for the cross over now. Threw a strange story about a bat mitzvah, aquarium, and the Penguins game, my dad got one that he’s never going to use (he has FiOS TV), so he gave it to me. But, that just happened Monday so that number is at least 2,999,999 now.

The Baker says:


Obviously from the posts here, from supposedly somewhat technically savvy people the communications on what is needed to watch DTV, when you could watch it, and why the switchover is needed in the first place.

Most stations have been transmitting DTV for quite some time, I have been watching OTA DTV for over two years now.

If you are watching TV in a rural or remote location where the station signal is being rebroadcast off a translator, it will still be analog and everything will work the same for the foreseeable future.

The sixty buck cable box (Worth $20) is simple to install and quality improvement is worth it. (Grandma says Vanna looks much older in High Def.)

If you have cable or satellite you don’t need to do a damned thing.
(Our local cable company is running a scare campaign telling antenna customers that they will “GO DARk” if they don’t get cable and that their cable customers should upgrade their service to “Insure a quality viewing experience after the switchover”.) What a bunch of rubbish!

The reason for the switchover is that the FCC auctioned off the bandwidth that the American taxpayers own for billions of dollars to the large telecom corporations. The public safety rhetoric that given is only a minor fraction of the reason and could be acquired in other ways.

EEJ (profile) says:

From what I understand, after June 12th, anyone without a digital converter/tuner that receives their television “over the air” will receive nothing but static.

Why isn’t the FCC requiring all over the air broadcasters to display a static informational screen that basically says (similar to not having flash installed on your browser) “If you are seeing this message, you need to….”

It seems to me this would be the best way to get the point across, rather than people turning on their TVs, getting static, and thinking their tv is broken or not knowing where to go for the information….

bob says:

I'm Gona

Make one of them big antennas to get OTA TV and kill the cable except for My Internet service.
Up my netflix to the max number of DVD’s a month and sit back and torrent the rest of the stuff I will not be able to get.
I need to set up one of my computers to get TV from Canada, I don’t want to miss Red Green or Air Farce.

Lol E. Gag says:

Uh, Mr. President..?

What has me laughing is the fact that the President of the United States is so “concerned” that Americans are not ready to watch TV that he calls primetime speeches. Please, stop making it look like our (taxpaying Americans’) interests are in mind with this “don’t be left in the dark” mumbo-jumbo. I doubt the economy will further go into significant chaos if P&G can’t sell as many cleaning products via the one-eyed monster as they used to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Goddamn am I tired about hearing about this switch. Who cares how many people aren’t “ready”? These three million houses either, A) They know about the switch and are too lazy/don’t care enough to get hooked up or B) They barely watch any TV and don’t know/care enough about the switch. Either way, it certainly doesn’t warrant more needless legislation to delay the switchover. And those few people who do care will turn on their TV and it won’t get reception and then they’ll get off their ass and fix it.

I fail to see what the big deal is.

Fred McTaker (profile) says:

TV is not a public good.

Who cares if someone loses access to their boob tube signal? TV isn’t a public good. It stopped being a “public service” a long time ago. It’s just another form of monopoly, and the sooner it ends the better. Put it all online, and give that spectrum up to WiFi already. You know it’s going to happen eventually, so why delay it with this DTV BS?

Dude says:

Cable is too expensive

I am not going to pay $35 a month for basic cable and $73 for full cable. This is insane. Since WGTV is unreceivable anywhere in the city because of their dumbass engineering maneuvers, the TV goes to the curb.


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