DTV Switchover Switched

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm

At the last meeting of The Tower, I was given a piece of information regarding the switch from analog to digital television broadcasting. Apparently the United States Senate had voted unanimously to postpone the upcoming switchover from the original date of February 17 to June 12, 2009.

They didn’t count on Congress. As of January 28, the bill supporting this, backed by President Obama and Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, failed to get the two-thirds House majority that is required to pass it. The vote came in at 258 to 168. The date of February 17 will stick, for now anyway.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that over 13.5 million American households rely on analog television sets. Once the switch happens, analog sets will turn dark unless they have a digital converter box. The government had implemented a $1.34 billion coupon program which allowed each household up to two $40 coupons to help subsidize the purchase of the converter boxes. This recently ended when the funding limit was reached. An estimated 6.5 million households have yet to receive their converter boxes. Anyone who tries to apply for a box now will be placed on a waiting list.

The House vote was mostly split along party lines, with Republicans being concerned that moving the switchover to June would do more harm than good. They say it will confuse owners of analog sets. The February 17 date has been set since mid-2005. According to Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, millions of dollars have been spent to alert consumers. Delaying the transition would also cost them up to $22 million.

Republicans were also concerned that because local TV stations are ready for next month’s change, the proposed postponement would mean more maintenance and power for broadcasters.

Democrats could try and change the proposal that would enable it to pass the House with a mere simple majority. Although that bill would have to return to the Senate for final approval.

While I associate myself with no political party, I have to agree with Republicans on this particular issue. A delay this close to the deadline will not help. If someone is not ready now, I doubt they will be ready in June. It’s only been five years since the date was set. The general population has known about the deadline for at least a year, if not more.
I do not find it to be a big deal if people have to go without TV for a short while.

The solution to this is fairly simple in my opinion. The government should just fund the $40 coupon vouchers a bit more. Allow those on the waiting list to receive one as quickly as possible. If someone had yet to apply, then let them deal with the switch. Eventually, everyone will adapt.

If you have an analog box and have yet to apply for one, you can do so by going to


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