Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Television Media Government United States News

Senate Approves 4-Month Delay In Digital TV Switch 438

Posted by kdawson
from the procrastinators-win-again dept.
DJRumpy sends word that the US Senate has voted to delay the switch to digital TV until June. "The transition date would move to June 12 from February 17 under the bill that was fueled by worries that viewers are not technically ready for the Congressionally mandated switch-over. It would also allow consumers with expired coupons, available from the government to offset the cost of a $40 converter box, to request new coupons. The government ran out of coupons earlier this month, and about 2.5 million Americans are on a waiting list for them."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Senate Approves 4-Month Delay In Digital TV Switch

Comments Filter:
  • Ahh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:16PM (#26616059)
    And then it'll be December 17.
  • Bad Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:23PM (#26616115)
    This a bad move by an equally mismanaged program. They say that there was not enough funding for the demand for coupons, but then the number of coupons exceeds the estimate of TVs receiving through broadcast signals. Most of those boxes are now for sale on eBay. And this does not even touch on the lobbying from the cable industry and other vested $$$ interests. Bad move.
  • Re:Just do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:24PM (#26616127) Journal
    It really doesn't matter when they do it -- February, June, two years ago, two years from now. Either way, they'll still have 2 million clueless idiots cussing out at their TVs wondering what happened to their TV signal. And all of those 2 million will be technologically clueless senior citizens -- anyone under the age of, say, 40, already gets most of their TV from the internet, where it's on demand and there's far fewer commercials.
  • How many (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darth_brooks (180756) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {773reppilc}> on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:29PM (#26616161) Homepage

    So how many of those 2.5 million are scammers and huckesters who are bilking the elderly and inept as we muddle through this insane clusterfuck? This mess is enough to turn the most die hard quasi-socialist into a small government, free market libertarian in the span of about 7 seconds.

    Plus, now I've got to deal with four more months of commercials regarding this switch....ON MY CABLE FUCKING TV!!!! yeah, thanks comcast, thank you for reminding me every 29 seconds that the DTV switch is coming.

    I need to drink more.

  • Re:Bad Move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:34PM (#26616201)

    no, most of the 18 million boxes sold did *not* wind up on eBay. what an incredibly stupid assertion.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:38PM (#26616237) Journal

    I'm on the fence on this.

    I'm on the fence about whether or not the change is worthwhile -- by all accounts the digital transmissions have worse reception and worse issues with multipath -- but if we accept that it's worthwhile it seems to me that we should stop stonewalling the change. Just get it over with already. Or cancel it and tell Verizon and AT&T to go pound sand (like they were ever gonna give us a third pipe anyway). Either way make a decision already.

    They could delay it for 10 more years and there'd still be people out there that have no clue until the TV stops working and a big graphic comes on that explains why it stopped working.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:40PM (#26616267)

    And if we hire a thousand kids to throw rocks at windows, it will stimulate the economy by forcing the purchase of new windows!

    Forcing people to buy things they don't need or want with no benefit to them won't stimulate the economy- it will force dollars away from useful purchases to useless ones. It harms the economy, not boosts it.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:48PM (#26616333) Journal

    >>>the economy has tanked which leave people with little to no disposable income.

    They can't afford a $40 Dish TR40/DTVpal, or a $50 Zenith converter box??? C'mon. All they have to do is skip their daily candybar snack and they'll have the extra money for the box.

    >>>By having a four month extension, this will be helpful while the economy rebounds

    You don't need to change the original February 17 to continue handing-out coupons, or selling the DTV boxes. In fact, extending the data is *damaging* because it's forcing tv stations to spend double the power output, which they can't afford, and cancel the hiring of technicians who would have performed the antenna upgrades. A delay hurts.

  • by faedle (114018) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:50PM (#26616345) Homepage Journal

    Jesus Christ. Every single program has had a crawl on it for months now. Most commercial breaks include a message. There have been ads in the newspaper, on the radio, and in other media.

    If you don't know by now that you may need a converter box, you probably should be institutionalized. Seriously.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:52PM (#26616355)

    The media is scared shitless that millions of households won't have converter boxes installed by the Feb. date, which, coincidentally, is during one of the "sweeps weeks" for broadcasters. Millions of eyeballs not able to watch tv will mean several millions in lost advertising revenue in a time when tv is already showing declining viewership among the more coveted demographics. Broadcasters prefer putting off the deadline till the beginning of summer when most everything on tv are reruns and viewership is at its lowest.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) * on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:57PM (#26616405) Homepage Journal

    By forcing people to switch now, it will force people to start purchasing.

    Though delaying it until people theoretically have tax refunds and/or any stimulus to spend seems like a good thing.

  • Poor planning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by astinus (560894) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:02PM (#26616453) Homepage Journal

    It would also allow consumers with expired coupons, available from the government to offset the cost of a $40 converter box, to request new coupons.

    Wait a second... why wouldn't you print all such coupons to expire the day after the planned switchover? What possible reason is there to have them expire early?

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:09PM (#26616521)

    >Impossible.

    Not really. Just keep the DTV signals on the temporary UHF frequencies for 30 days after the "transition" and use the analog ones to broadcast the message. Or better yet, start transmitting it now and be ready for the switch in February.

    With appropriate legislation, you could delay the turnover to the new license-holders by the necessary 30 days.

  • Re:Corruption? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:18PM (#26616609) Homepage

    Quite a few people could be seen to be benefiting from this. Politicians because they will "save the people" by fixing the coupon program (they broke) and stopping TV from "going away". Incumbent providers of some services (basically anyone who stands to get competition from the newly free spectrum) will benefit. Cable and satellite providers get another 120 days to try to fear monger people that they will lose TV if they don't switch to digital cable / digital satellite.

    Basically, many people (myself included at this point) think this change has been handled poorly. Some European countries have been on DTV for years. They said "this is the date" and switched. No coupon programs, no hand-outs, no endless delays (hint: this was supposed to happen in '06), etc. They were willing to put up with the fact this wouldn't be perfectly clean.

    If I bought that spectrum, I would sue the government to stop the delay. I was promised the spectrum (and put up a TON of cash) to get it. It was supposed to be free on Feb 17th. We'd already delayed years and were told "this is it". Now it's not. You just pushed back my millions of dollars of investment and planning by months. That will cost a ton of money.

    And let's not forget, the government gets some of the spectrum too. It's supposed to be usable for emergency services. Do the TVs of a few million people who have been ignoring 2 years of warnings (plus a coupon program) deserve to watch Two and a Half men and One Life To Live more than the emergency services people deserve to use the spectrum?

    It's probably all just stupidity, but it's quite possible to make a decent argument for corruption.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:23PM (#26616653)

    Technology moves on. Did the government give people who owned horses coupons to buy fords?

    its TELEVISION, not national defense or health care.

    Government spending is fine on a good cause, but I don't call the coffers of converter box manufacturers a good cause.

  • by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:32PM (#26616717) Homepage Journal

    Darn, I was hoping it would be like that episode of The Simpsons when Itchy & Scratchy got re-tooled, and all these kids go outside to play. Some are painting fences, others do that "push the hoop with the stick" old-timey thing.

    Knowing it's 2009, kids will go "meh" and just go visit a website.

  • by kherr (602366) <kevinNO@SPAMpuppethead.com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:32PM (#26616727) Homepage

    I hope stations switch anyway. The February 17 deadline is three weeks away. Stations have already scheduled their work crews and support staff, have made plans for the hardware cutover, etc. Now they're expected to suddenly halt everything, add an additional four months of dual-service costs and redo all of their plans?

    Seems to me this move does nothing to help people prepare for the switch, but will succeed in making the stations unprepared. So it'll be a bigger mess than sticking to the original date.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:38PM (#26616789)

    No one is mandated to buy anything.

  • Re:This is good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:56PM (#26616951) Homepage

    Comcast is trying like hell to eliminate the analog lineup. They can then force you to pay extra for EVERY TV by forcing a cable box rental. The upper management has been drooling over this for over 4 years and this in fact has been planned for a while now. Most places that have comcast will be FORCED over to the digital boxes by the end of 2010. At least those were the plans I saw in one of the last meetings I was in on back in 2005. They get a rate cut from the content providers by encrypting everything. Plus they get to fire 70% of the installer workforce as they no longer need to roll a truck for a disconnect. They simply shut off your boxes.

  • Re:Poor planning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Flying Scotsman (1255778) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:04PM (#26617025)
    From what I have heard from various sources, this was to discourage people from all waiting until the last second before redeeming their coupons, resulting in the sudden demand for converter boxes to exceed the supply available in stores. How effective that was is another issue, of course.
  • by WillRobinson (159226) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:06PM (#26617049) Journal

    And that space that was sold in the auction? Is the government going to reimburse the people who purchased the leases on this space that will be continued to be used? I smell another bailout..

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kent_eh (543303) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:11PM (#26617107)

    I have no idea what the real efficiency of a TV transmitter is, but if it were 80% input to ERP you get about 4.5 GW of energy used to keep running ATV.

    Given that a TV transmitter is mostly just a huge power amplifier, and in my experience most of the higher powered ones contain at least a couple of tubes*, I'd be surprised if the efficiency got over 50%
    As a matter of fact, it looks like it's lower than that. Take a look [harris.com] and do your own math.

    * Why tubes in this day and age?
    They are a proven reliable way of amplifying up to 100s of kilowatts. Transistor amplifiers get very complex even as low as 10KW (the biggest solid state transmitter I've personally worked on). And when they fail it usually takes out dozens, if not hundreds of components. Replacing a pair of final amplifier tubes, and maybe a capacitor after a lightning strike can get you back on the air in an hour or 2.

  • by peektwice (726616) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:40PM (#26617361)
    Horse shit, there is no fence. These assholes (government, network TV, viewers) have had four years to get ready for this. Anyone dragging their feet over a $49US converter box is just a lazy shit-bum. Remember folks, TV is a luxury item that you don't need. It shouldn't be subsidized. If you want to continue watching it, get a converter. Simple as that. You've all had ample time to get the converter. The fact that 2.5 million people are on the waiting list tells me that there are 2.5 million lazy sons-of-bitches that will NEVER get with the program as long as there are delays. Remember when Al Gore said we had ten years to fix global warming? These same fuckers are waiting for the government delay on that too.
  • by macraig (621737) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:06AM (#26617603)

    Forcing people to buy things they don't need or want with no benefit to them won't stimulate the economy- it will force dollars away from useful purchases to useless ones. It harms the economy, not boosts it.

    What a process like that actually does is concentrate wealth/resources. Whether that constitutes "harming" the economy depends entirely upon one's values, ethics, and "economic party" (Capitalist, Socialist, Libertarian, Anarchist, etc.). I would guess you must be a socialist of sorts, but I have to tell you, many people for better or worse don't see the behavior you described as "harmful" at all.

    It's that ethical failure, possibly delusional, to see the harm it causes that is the real danger, especially here in the United States (thanks to our own peculiar brand of indoctrination over the last century). We can't even agree on what constitutes harm. We can't agree on that because a significant segment of the population is so utterly self-centric that if it doesn't harm them or their own close circle, then it's simply not harm to them. The apparent lack of empathy for strangers is so pervasive that you might think half the population is autistic or something.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:14AM (#26617651)

    Forcing people to buy things they don't need or want with no benefit to them won't stimulate the economy- it will force dollars away from useful purchases to useless ones. It harms the economy, not boosts it.

    Actually this conversion is the antitheses of the broken windows fallacy; instead digital uses an existing limited resource more efficiently, which will pay dividends indefinitely. By converting the wasteful analog transmissions to more efficient digital, they reclaimed a resource which then sold for $20 billion dollars [wikipedia.org]. Of that, about $1.3 billion [msn.com] was spent defraying the cost of digital converter boxes, which undercuts your argument of forcing people to buy them.

    The spectrum we used to use for TV will now be used for TV plus broadband plus who knows what. That is a net win.

  • Re:Bad Move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:19AM (#26617691)

    Also, I went online and requested my coupons very early in the process, well over a year ago. (What the heck, the gov't wants to use my tax dollars to hand out free converter boxes, I'll take one!) I never received any coupons. I wonder how many of these expired coupons were never actually sent out because some contractor did not actually ever put them in the mail.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by izomiac (815208) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:20AM (#26617693) Homepage
    It seems to me that, before the switchover, they should mandate annoying 1 or 2 minute "commercials" (in progressively increasing frequency) saying something to the effect that "This is an analog TV station, it will not work past X, this is how to get a converter box". The key would be to *only* show these commercials on analog stations, perhaps even have shorter ones saying "Your TV is ready for the switchover" on digital ones, satellite, and cable. I don't watch TV, so I don't care much, but it was a challenge figuring out if it was receiving digital channels or not since it's the same content on both. I basically had to judge based on reception artifacts, so I suspect many people are assuming their "new" TVs are ready...
  • Re:Just do it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:22AM (#26617711)

    It really doesn't matter when they do it -- February, June, two years ago, two years from now. Either way, they'll still have 2 million clueless idiots cussing out at their TVs wondering what happened to their TV signal.

    Well, according to the summary there are 2.5 million people on the coupon waiting list. So that group of people, at least, are not clueless - they want to convert, and for them waiting does matter - it will save them $40 or $80 each.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngelofDeath-02 (550129) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:36AM (#26617823)

    I wish I shared your experience. I live in Phoenix and i can't even walk across the living room without interrupting the signal. Also, instead of getting partial snow or a possibly wavy picture you get nothing, or at best blocks of your picture.

    My solution? Download them. I watch two shows and I can buy the dvd's when the next season starts.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tacvek (948259) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @01:06AM (#26618023) Journal

    It seems to me that, before the switchover, they should mandate annoying 1 or 2 minute "commercials" (in progressively increasing frequency) saying something to the effect that "This is an analog TV station, it will not work past X, this is how to get a converter box". The key would be to *only* show these commercials on analog stations, perhaps even have shorter ones saying "Your TV is ready for the switchover" on digital ones, satellite, and cable. I don't watch TV, so I don't care much, but it was a challenge figuring out if it was receiving digital channels or not since it's the same content on both. I basically had to judge based on reception artifacts, so I suspect many people are assuming their "new" TVs are ready...

    Parts of that do have. They have mandatory commercials and news segments. It would be nice to have special commericals that are format specific. Analog would warn about the switchover.

    Digital would remind people that they have everything they need and starting at the switchover date they can use the old channel numbers again.

    Satellite and cable cos should use their commercial replacement systems (yes they do own special equipment to allow them to replace commercials in the original feeds) with the least annoying possible commercial that reminds viewers that they will not be impacted, and thanks them for choosing $NAME_OF_PROVIDER.

    If the whole system was well run, the government would have mandated such commercials, and provided examples to the companies. They would also mandate inclusion of some special tag in the analog and OTA digital feeds to make it easy for the cable and sat providers to detect and replace the commercials.

  • Re:Just do it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kelnos (564113) <bjt23@cor[ ]l.edu ['nel' in gap]> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @03:08AM (#26618711) Homepage

    They can't afford a $40 Dish TR40/DTVpal, or a $50 Zenith converter box??? C'mon. All they have to do is skip their daily candybar snack and they'll have the extra money for the box.

    Wow, can you really be that ignorant?

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

Working...