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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."
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Senate Approves 4-Month Delay In Digital TV Switch

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  • Ahh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:16PM (#26616059)
    And then it'll be December 17.
    • Re:Ahh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:21PM (#26616095)

      ..., 2035.

    • Re:Ahh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by el americano (799629) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:58PM (#26617519) Homepage

      Don't ignore the other aspect of this bill. As a holder of one of the 14 million expired coupons, I look forward to getting and using a new one. I requested so early, that it came in February, with an unexpected 3-month expiration period. For price and selection, I was motivated to wait as long as possible, and time ran out. My mistake, but if I get a second chance, I'll buy it right away.

      I'm unsure if it'll really happen, because the funding looks to have been spent, and there's a waiting list of people who didn't waste their coupon ahead of me, but it's in the article, so it must be true. [sign-up required, editor - or you can change your user-agent to be the googlebot.]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by el americano (799629)

        I think I understand now: https://www.dtv2009.gov/Stats.aspx [dtv2009.gov]

        There are 11.7 million coupons outstanding. So, if the redemption rate continues below 60%, then that would be enough to cover the 2.5 million coupons on the waiting list and 2 or 3 million more. However, I read elsewhere that current expiration dates would be pushed out to September 15th, so new applicants would probably not be issued any coupons until after that.

    • Re:Ahh... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bootarn (970788) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:02AM (#26619315) Homepage

      I envy you.

      Here in Sweden, they switched us over without considering the signal coverage in the countryside. Analogue reception was already bad, and it's impossible to put these heavily distorted radio signals together into digital video frames. No, the viewers were not ready. No, the government didn't care.

      And no, they didn't offer coupons for set top boxes either.

  • Just do it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:17PM (#26616075)

    One motion! Right off!

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

      by matazar (1104563) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:21PM (#26616093) Homepage

      Seriously, I don't think this is that big of a deal.
      Just make the switch and stop those annoying commercials.

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

        by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:31PM (#26616179) Homepage

        I'm on the fence on this.

        On one had, the economy has tanked which leave people with little to no disposable income. I can imagine some canceling their cable/sat account and going with just over the air programming. By having a four month extension, this will be helpful while the economy rebounds (if it all by that time).

        On the other hand however. By forcing people to switch now, it will force people to start purchasing. Having a healthy economy starts with flow and exchange of money from person to person.

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

          by Shakrai (717556) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:38PM (#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.

          • by Firethorn (177587)

            I haven't had any issues; and I'm more than 50 miles from the transmitters. Not much in the way of multipath where I am, but signal strength is a definite issue; The digital channels are universally better thus far than the analogs(that have some snow).

            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.

            Or at least until their TV stops working and they haul themselves to the store to buy a new one(they'd be unlikely to understand a converter box if they're that dumb).

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

              by AngelofDeath-02 (550129) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:36PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Firethorn (177587)

                Hmm... Have you checked the power they're transmitting at? I've read that many of the stations are transmitting at lower power until they shut off the analog stations.

                Other solutions, if possible(you might be in an apartment), might be to put an antenna on the roof or in the attic. Even with a longer cable run, a larger antenna will beat rabbit ears all to heck. The extra height doesn't hurt either.

                Then again, I download fairly frequently as well - I get 5 stations, including the religious channel on my

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

            by SuperQ (431) * on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:47PM (#26616887) Homepage

            It is worthwhile. For this one reason. Gigawatts.

            Using data from the FCC, http://www.fcc.gov/mb/video/tvq.html [fcc.gov] I calculated the sum total effective radiated power of all TV stations in the US.

            Total for ATV: 3.6 GW
            Total for DTV: 1.5 GW

            Savings before you factor in transmitter efficiencies: 2.1 GW.

            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.

            Over the 115 day extension that's 12.3 Terawatt-hours.

            • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:06PM (#26617065)

              Over the 115 day extension that's 12.3 Terawatt-hours.

              What's that in burning-libraries-of-congress?

              C'mon man, use STANDARDS.

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

              by kent_eh (543303) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:11PM (#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.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by $lingBlade (249591)

                Hate to break it to you there bud but replacing tubes in RF transmitters is far from a job that takes an "hour or two".

                I work for a TV station here in Los Angeles and I assure you there's more to swapping tubes than just popping them in and turning the transmitter back on.

                First just installing the tube is no easy task, these things are designed with specially tuned cavities that usually require two people lifting/twisting heavy metal parts in and out of the cabinet. These parts cannot be banged around or d

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by geekmux (1040042)

              It is worthwhile. For this one reason. Gigawatts.

              ...Over the 115 day extension that's 12.3 Terawatt-hours.

              Holy shit. If my math is right, I could travel back in time, if I can get a set of rabbit ears to reach 88MPH...

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

            by MightyYar (622222) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:05PM (#26617043)

            by all accounts the digital transmissions have worse reception and worse issues with multipath

            Just to add a datapoint for you. I'm in a large city (NYC) with a big building blocking the path to midtown where the antennas are... analog gave me almost no reception - certainly nothing clear. Using the same antenna I get most of the major networks. The signal sometimes drops out a little and I get those funny digital artifacts or lose the sound for a second, but not often enough to sour the average ball game or sitcom. We NEVER watched analog TV because of the quality, but now we'll occasionally fire up the TV.

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

          by AuMatar (183847) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:40PM (#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.

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            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, you mean dumping capital into unproductive ventures isn't the best way to get the economy rolling again? Who knew!

          • Not only that, but just about every electronics purchase that isn't made by Intel or AMD just goes to further screwing our balance of trade.
          • Re:Just do it! (Score:5, Informative)

            by David M. Andersen (711958) * <`gro.hcetamd' `ta' `amd'> on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:26PM (#26616675) Homepage
            Obligatory Wikipedia page explaining this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window [wikipedia.org]
          • Worked out better for us. Don't know about the economy overall, but for us it was a deal, it made it so the old set is still functional, and it improved it immensely! Like a really good cheap upgrade! Got the coupon, bought a zenith 901 converter, and we get more stations now and they come in *clear*, out in north cow flop rural Georgia. Before, stations were all fuzzy, none of them clear, plus we picked up PBS, which we couldn't get at all before. Granted, you can *not* screw with the antenna once it is s

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by timeOday (582209)

            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

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          >>>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 *dam

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nizo (81281) *

          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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jellomizer (103300)

          Do it now or do it later. This will have minamal impact on the echonomy. The people who haven't gone digital will not go digital in 4 months or 6 months of 20 years. They will wait until it no longer works. Some will cry ignornacne, money or whatever... But the fact was they didn't care enough to switch early and now they have to pay the piper. I doubt This delay will have any benefit to the delay.

        • by peektwice (726616) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:40PM (#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.
      • >>>Just make the switch and stop those annoying commercials.

        I agree! I just setup my TV with the digital box, and disconnected the analog portion. I'm ready to get this over with!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Majik Sheff (930627)

        I don't know... I like the commercials... where they talk to me... real slow... so that my inferior... intellect can absorb... all of the information... that has been presented... to me repeatedly.

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

      by cashman73 (855518) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:24PM (#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.
      • Re:Just do it! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by porcupine8 (816071) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:29PM (#26616163) Journal
        When they finally do it, instead of shutting off all analog signal they need to make every station in the country broadcast a repeating message for a week explaining what happened and giving instructions plus a phone # to call for more details. That's about the only way to limit the number of angry phone calls that everyone from the electric companies to the stores that sold the remote controls will get.

        Amazingly, my technologically-handicapped grandmother actually noticed the commercials and listened to my dad when he told her about this, so she's fine - I, on the other hand, waited too long and am now on the dtv waiting list. (Though I also might use it as an excuse to upgrade to hd.)
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          When they finally do it, instead of shutting off all analog signal they need to make every station in the country broadcast a repeating message for a week explaining what happened and giving instructions plus a phone # to call for more details.

          I believe that's what the plan is although I'd wager that it will be displayed for more than a week. It's not like AT&T and Verizon have roll out plans for that spectrum yet anyway. Hell, the cynic in me thinks their "roll out plan" consisted of "let's buy this up to shut down the third pipe before it starts", so there probably isn't a rush to free up the spectrum.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            >>>>>instead of shutting off all analog signal they need to make every station in the country broadcast a repeating message for a week

            >>I believe that's what the plan is

            Well freedom of religion is a right, so you can believe whatever you want, but it's not true. ;-) When the analog signals turn-off, the digital signals move into the former space. So for example, when WBAL-11 turns-off their analog channels, it will immediately be replaced by WBAL-DT-11. There will be no way for an

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        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.

        Danger! Danger!! Reality Disconnect Detected!! Please re-connect individual with general populace as soon as possible to achieve proper perspective. Thank you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)

        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.

  • Bad Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:23PM (#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.
    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Hmmm... Seems like a bad strategy to me. You might be able to sell some right now while no more coupons are being issued; but as long as the coupons are available I'd be hesitant to try to sell them on Ebay.

      I'd put them up on switching day, if not a bit later. After the coupon program has expired.

      • I sold a Zenith for $70 on amazon, and a DTVpal for the same price. And that was *before* the coupons had run-out. I guess since most households are limited to just 2 coupons, these extra units are being sold for the extra sets, VCRs, or DVRs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176)

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

    • Re:Bad Move (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sribe (304414) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:19PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)

      but then the number of coupons exceeds the estimate of TVs receiving through broadcast signals.

      I can't speak for others, but before the switch I had zero devices on broadcast, but now switched my TV and PVR from Comcast to broadcast since the digital picture is so much better. Analog broadcast TV looked lousy, now it's better than cable.

      Anyways, I'm curious how the system is being scammed? Are retailers filing for hundreds of cards using others' addresses (identity theft) and then redeeming them for

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:24PM (#26616121) Homepage Journal

    One of my stations switched recently anyways; other than telling my TV to check for a digital station on that channel, no issues. Picture improved, though it's pretty obvious that they're merely feeding it an analog signal through a converter for now.

    While I'd push more funding in for the coupons; I have the feeling that many/most on that list don't actually need a box. Talking with various people, there's a lot getting them 'just in case' even though they get cable/dish. For that matter, I bought one for my CRT TV about a month before a great deal had me buying a new LCD TV.

    The final point I'd have is that, at this point, delaying the switch won't get you that many more digital capable homes - many are procrastinating, and will continue to do so until they can't get broadcast TV.

    Meanwhile I'd like to see those applications for the freed up bandwidth to actually happen. Of course, I saw on conspiracy theory that those wanting a delay have or are looking to bring out competing products.

    • >>>I saw on conspiracy theory that those wanting a delay have or are looking to bring out competing products.

      Please elaborate. How do they gain from a four-month delay?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by skiingyac (262641)

        See http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/01/4g-war-conflict-of-interests-loom-behind-possible-dtv-delay.ars

        Basically, Verizon wants to deploy their 4G cellular network using the spectrum that will be freed up, and Clearwire wants that to take as long as possible so they can get more users to sign up for WiMAX first (which is already somewhat deployed).

        In reality, yeah a 4 month delay probably won't have much impact on the amount of customers either service gets since the demand isn't very high right

  • People want CH 2 HD in Chicago to move to better signal will this slow that down?

  • by fo0bar (261207) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:28PM (#26616151)

    I'm not talking about the "will delaying the transition allow everybody who has been ignoring the constant barrage of ads to ignore them some more" debate. February 17 is (soon to be "was") a date all broadcasters must stop BY. It doesn't mean you have (had) to stop ON that date. A local broadcaster actually just turned off their analog tower yesterday. [kolotv.com]

    I'm wondering if many broadcasters will just choose to switch over on the 17th anyway, as the ball is already rolling, so to speak. It'd probably cost them a decent amount of money and wasted resources not to go ahead with the original plan.

    (I could be wrong; there could be wording in the bill forcing broadcasters to wait off.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kherr (602366)

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NuttyBee (90438)

        I have been working on the digital transition for a certain national TV provider for 4 years. We are DONE and ready to go all digital. In 1996, the drop dead date was set as 2006. It was extended to 2009. 13 years.

        How much longer do we really need?

        Those who aren't ready will get ready really quick. I'm happy to get them a kick in the pants.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:28PM (#26616155) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, if you're watching TV and your color TV suddenly is B&W on every channel, and so is your buddy's, even the clueless idiot is going to drag his ass to the TV asile of walmart and start asking questions. You still get TV, and HDTV is avalible, but SDTV is black and white which will prompt people to go to the store and at least consider a HD tuner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MBCook (132727)

      Unfortunately the only difference between a B&W single and a color signal (in the analog world) is the color burst. The signal will take just as much power (basically) to broadcast.

      The biggest problem for most stations at this point is probably the extra power it would use to keep the analog transmitters going an extra 90 days. B&W wouldn't do any good there, it would just annoy people and cause more confusion than having no signal (or the "nightlight" signal that would have continued).

      I hope that

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        No, the point of broadcasting in B&W isn't to reduce broadcast power (that's just dumb at this point), it is, like you said, to annoy and confuse people so they start asking questions. Because really anyone at this point who doesnt have an HDTV converter box either isn't aware of doesn't think it applies to them. These are the same people that are going to get angry and call the FCC the day analog gets shut off. Rather than have them super angry and without TV, they have a serious degradation of quality

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by faedle (114018)

          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 Firethorn (177587)

            Or you watch TV so rarely it'll be at least 3 months before you notice the conversion...

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            You are going to be shocked, SHOCKED at how many people bitch and moan about this, thinking that it didn't apply to them. It's one thing to read a message and not understand it, and ignore it from then on thinking it doesn't apply to you; it's another thing entirely to break part of what they use (go B&W) so they see it does apply to them. Many people fore go medical treatment thinking it isn't as bad as it really is (lump in breast) and when they finally are talked into seeing a doctor it has metastasi

      • >>>It's a stupid idea that won't do any good but waste money and time.

        You just gave the short definition of "government". Which is why the U.S. Founders revolted and tried to create a new government that was minimalist, and therefore did minimal damage.

    • they do broadcast in black and white.

      color was an 'add-on' (ha!) and a clever compatible one, at that. they added chroma so that you could still use your b/w tv when color became a new standard.

      so actually, they would just have to NOT add the chroma.

  • How many (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darth_brooks (180756) * <clipper377&gmail,com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:29PM (#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.

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      ON MY CABLE FUCKING TV!!!! yeah, thanks comcast, thank you for reminding me every 29 seconds that the DTV switch is coming.

      I hate to defend crapcast of all outfits but I'm pretty sure those commercials are mandated by the FCC. Time Warner has been running them like crazy too.

      Worse than the commercials though are the misinformed (or lying) reps at Time Warner. Buddy of mine called up to get ghetto cable (just the networks) and they tried to tell him that it was no longer an option and he had to sign up for digital cable so it would work after the switch. Dunno if it was a misinformed rep or somebody trying to make a commissio

  • This is good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alien Being (18488) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:33PM (#26616189)

    The cable companies have been using the February switchover as subterfuge for their own plans.

    For about a year, Comcast have been advertising that their customers can "keep on watching their favorite shows" after the switch with no changes needed. Very recently, the wording of their ads changed. Now all they say is that if you use their set-top-box, then you're covered.

    I decided to call them and ask for the real answer.

    Me: I see that you've changed the wording in your ads. Will my service change in February?

    Comcast: blah blah blah blah affected blah blah.

    Me: Would you please repeat that?

    Comcast: blah blah blah blah affected blah blah.

    Me: Wait. Will I be affected, or will I not be affected?

    Comcast: You will be affected.

    Me: How?

    Comcast: You will lose some channels.

    Me: Really! Which ones?

    Comcast: We don't know yet.

    Me: Well, how many channels will I lose?

    Comcast: Between 7 and 10.

    Me: I see. For a year you've been lying to us and you still won't tell us the truth. By the way, why does the Comcast have to change anything?

    Comcast: We don't. The timing is coincidental.

    Me: Fuck you!

    • by dr_dank (472072)

      After a brief intermission, please join us for Act II on Slashdot Theatre.

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

      by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:56PM (#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.

  • by djupedal (584558)

    Wow...look how much money we can make off of this 'transition'!!! And the longer it takes to accomplish, the more we can make!! Lobby for a delay!! Now!! Screw the public!!!!!!

  • PBS (Score:5, Informative)

    by 787style (816008) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:43PM (#26616301)
    PBS claimed that delaying the conversion would cost them $22 million [google.com]. Is that a check we have to write now lest we get sued?
  • Old buggers (Score:3, Funny)

    by tdwMighty (1453161) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:46PM (#26616317) Homepage
    The old buggers in the Senate probably just figured out how to work a DVD player and now are too afraid of the change to digital TV.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:52PM (#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.

  • Pirate TV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freyyr890 (1019088)
    I'm just wondering when the offshore pirate broadcasts in protest are going to start. It doesn't take much to start a pirate TV station (most HAM radio FSTV transmitters can be tuned to other frequencies than are allotted in the HAM bands). Rig a boat with a studio, anchor in international waters, crank up the transmitter power, and go wild.

    Also makes me wonder if the business is open up here in Canada and down south in Mexico to start border blasters.
  • Poor planning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by astinus (560894)

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandrese (485)
      The idea is that some people would get the coupons but then not use them (they get cable, buy a new TV, move out of the country, etc...) and they wanted the coupons to revert to people who still needed them. Not to mention all of the people who sign up for them because they see the ad, get confused when it comes in the mail and throws them away. If you've requested them but you let your coupons expire you can re-request the coupons. Of course that won't help now that the program is out of money, but blam
  • Currently we have 116 channels of mind-numbing NTSC channels.

    After the switchover we will have several hundred more mind-numbing ATSC channels.

    For the cable companies, this means that they will have more (apparent) capacity on their head-end equipment. Unfortunately they have decided it is more important to hand out executive bonuses rather than do the inevitable infrastructure upgrades necessary for the public to notice a difference in digital quality. (The cable companies have the luxury to choose when

  • Not trolling but honestly, why was this article flagged as corruption? Who really gains by pushing this out longer other than the people who are either 1. oblivious or 2. lazy?

    I agree with the posters who say just do it. Personally I use Optimum so mine is covered on their end but it could be a nice little jolt to the economy having a bunch of people running out to buy HD tvs, cable packages or converter boxes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727)

      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 incl

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Who really gains by pushing this out longer other than the people who are either 1. oblivious or 2. lazy?

      The "legitimate" businessmen: Digital TV Tuner companies, Advertisers
      The scammers: Cable companies, Satellite companies, Best Buy Salesmen in the HDTV section, Senators being bribed by all of the above.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:22PM (#26617709) Journal

      Not trolling but honestly, why was this article flagged as corruption?

      Because Obama's adviser on the DTV transition was an executive VP at Clearwire, which (with Sprint) is rolling out a WiMAX network. The competition (notably Verizon) is about to roll out LTE on the bandwidth being freed by the DTV transition (which they bought at auction for billions.)

      Delaying the DTV transition for months delays the LTE rollout ditto, while Clearwire captures more market share and the competitors' capital is locked up in useless assets that are producing no revenue.

      See this slashdot article [slashdot.org] for more.

  • NOOOOOOO!!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pjbgravely (751384) <(pjbgravely2) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:11PM (#26616531) Homepage Journal
    I have been waiting for 3 years for this change over.

    Most of the stations I receive will increase their digital streanth. One channel will change frequency and I need to know if I can get that one or I will have to point the antenna to another city.
  • by WillRobinson (159226) on Monday January 26, 2009 @10:06PM (#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..

  • Early switch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:43AM (#26618281)

    So, ome of our local stations [king5.com] is planning to switch early. On February 6th to be exact. So I'm guessing that the Feb 17th date was a "must switch by" date but earlier was OK. Unless the new legislation has been written to prohibit switching early, what's to stop stations from sticking to the Feb 17th date?

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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