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Senate Passes Another Bill To Delay Digital TV Transition 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-almost-like-they're-worried dept.
An anonymous reader tips news that the US Senate has passed another bill to delay the transition to digital TV. This is the second such bill to pass the Senate; the first was narrowly defeated in the House. The new version has an important difference — it would allow the transition to take place gradually over the four-month period between the original transition date (February 17th) and the extended date (June 12th). TV stations around the country could choose when they wanted to make the change, allowing those who have already begun plans to stop analog transmission to continue their shut-down operations.
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Senate Passes Another Bill To Delay Digital TV Transition

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  • by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:51AM (#26677413)

    I'm someone who doesn't watch much TV. I'm sure other people could go a few days (or however long it takes them to find out what's wrong with their television set) without TV. Now, how much MORE is this bill costing me in taxpayer dollars? And you justify this HOW?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:00PM (#26677475)

      Because some people took no action to get a DTV tuner, and now the government feels really bad about it. Naturally, their response is to delay everything. Those people are never going to be ready.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:23PM (#26677643)

        Yup. But IT WILL WORK.

        We switched to digital TV long ago in Finland (Honestly, I can't understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so far behind in this matter. What the hell is taking you so long?). It was delayed once due to not enough people having bought tuners. Then, they noticed that after the delay a lot of people still hadn't bought but didn't delay it more. And guess what? Within the last few weeks before the old broadcasts ending, the rest of the people bought them.

        Why would they have bought the tuners earlier? The longer you wait, the cheaper the technology gets and the better tuner you can buy. We bought our digibox well before we would have needed to but if we had bought one on last possible occasion, there would have been better models on the market for the same price...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mrsquid0 (1335303)

          >We switched to digital TV long ago in Finland (Honestly, I can't
          >understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so
          >far behind in this matter.

          My experience, from living in various countries, is that the US is generally a bit behind the curve when it comes to consumer electronics technology, such as tv. We do tend to have more interesting things to watch on our tvs though.

          • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @01:17PM (#26678087)

            No to mention a population and land size about a zillion times larger. That complicates public service/standards programs.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by slugstone (307678)

            >We switched to digital TV long ago in Finland (Honestly, I can't
            >understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so
            >far behind in this matter.

            My experience, from living in various countries, is that the US is generally a bit behind the curve when it comes to consumer electronics technology, such as tv. We do tend to have more interesting things to watch on our tvs though.

            Please tell. Quote your source.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Neoprofin (871029)
              "My experience, living in various countries"

              I know what you were going for, "American TV sucks", but if you're not going to do it right leave the comment for someone else to make.
          • by aliquis (678370)

            Atleast you had HD way before us over here in Europe.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Detritus (11846)
            Digital TV was invented in the USA. It's the implementation that has taken forever.
        • by kdemetter (965669)

          True . Where i live , it's comparable : we have 2 competing firms selling digital tv , and now they are in the heat of promotion , basically giving away the tuners , and providing months of free extra channels ( offcourse , the do this so you pay for them afterwards ) .

          If we had just bought it at the start, we would have had to pay for the tuner, without the free months.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SkyDude (919251)

          (Honestly, I can't understand how you guys in the promised land of TV can be so far behind in this matter. What the hell is taking you so long?)

          Let's see - Finland's population = 5,244,749 (July 2008 est.)USA = 303,824,640 (July 2008 est.). Estimates courtesy of the CIA Factbook.

          If my home state of Massachusetts mandated such a switch, with a population only slightly less than Finland's, I think it would have happened, ya think?

      • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:42PM (#26677785)

        Some people took action, but didn't get one.

        I was in the store in the early days of the coupon thing looking for digital tuners to compare. Best Buy and the other stores were totally out of them. If I gotten my coupons back then I might not have been able to get one because the coupons expire in 30 days.

        Right now a lot of people have applied for coupons, but they are out. So although those folks took action and applied, they won't be getting one until the govt decides to print out another batch.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Aranykai (1053846)

          So, heres my caveat. Why is everyone entitled to a coupon? Is there some law that you shouldn't have to upgrade your technology unless the government subsidizes the cost?

          Buy the damn box, or go without tv. Its not that complicated. Hell, Ill bet a good portion of the converters sold belong to people who have cable/satellite and don't even need them.

          • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @02:56PM (#26678867) Homepage

            There is this little bit of law we have about the government
            not being able to take things away from you. Now since it was
            the government that forced everyone's old devices to become
            useless, they have a responsibility to help with the aftermath.

            Although if this whole thing weren't one big moneygrab by
            electronics companies, the transition might have occured
            without the need for excessively priced replacement hardware.

            Nevermind the $50 converter box. You should be able to get
            a small ATSC TV for that much. Digital has been conflated
            with HDTV and content encryption.

            • by Detritus (11846)
              The government didn't take anything away from you. It has no obligation to compensate anyone for hardware that has become obsolete or useless due to new laws and regulations. This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened.
          • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @02:57PM (#26678871)

            "Why is everyone entitled to a coupon?"

            Because the government sold a public resource, the airwaves, to private companies. The funds from that sale go to provide the money for the coupons.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Luscious868 (679143)
          Or people could just get off of their lazy asses and go buy one WITHOUT a coupon. We're talking about $40 bucks. If you ask the me this entire program is one giant boondoggle. The government should only be subsidizing these things for poor people who actually need it and can't afford it on their own. Having a website where anybody can sign up for a coupon is beyond ridiculous. I realize we're talking about peanuts when it's compared to the overall budget, but we're still talking about millions of dollars th
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LurkerXXX (667952)

            Or maybe those 'lazy' people just aren't ignorant as you appear to be about the program.

            As I already replied to other posters, the government sold a public resource, the airwaves, to a handful of private companies. Funds from that sale went to provide the coupons, so it's not a boondoggle of any size. It's a valid way of making up for loss of the use of those public airwaves.

            American's are still "can do". Some are just more ignorant about how things work than others.

          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:54PM (#26679265) Homepage
            If you can afford the TV and the electricity to run the TV, I doubt you would have much a of problem scraping together $40 for the tuner. If you are that strapped for cash that you can't get $40 together, maybe you should go a little while without TV, You've had a couple years to prepare, Save a couple dollars a month in a jar to pay for it.
    • by goombah99 (560566)

      it's fear. If tens of million of people can't watch TV for a week, there's going to be a lot of grumpy people. I suspect that some people won't even be able to sleep without their before bedtime TV ritual.

      Just like when there's a black out and there's increase rioting there will be people milling around with nothing to do looking for trouble.

      Yes a few "enlightened" individuals will have a rebirth as they discover life without TV. I predict a raft of books on the topic of self actualization in 6 months.

      B

      • Then of course there's the simple logistics of how you stock and sell that many flat screen TVs. I suspect this is non-trivial. There just are not that many unhelpful sales clerks to go around, let alone to process the returns when people find a better buy the next week.

        What do flat panel TVs have to do with the switch at all? You do realize that old CRTs will continue to work perfectly, right? This is all about signal decoding and if the TV is capable of decoding the signal properly, not about how it's d

      • Re:Going postal (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sleigher (961421) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:35PM (#26677735)
        Well I think the US chose the wrong time to switch. We should have done the switch Saturday Jan 31st. Then half the country would have missed the Superbowl and maybe that would be the catalyst for change in DC. I swear that could work.....
      • it's fear.

        Maybe you're right, but the wrong way around. There is huge money being made by certain parties through fear. Guns are being sold because of fear. Security checkpoints are being installed because of fear. People are being kept in power because of fear. But how can you maintain that fear when the propaganda machinery can't speak to the people? How can the US Military keep their big fat war budget going if Joe Sixpack loses the fear that Mohammed Al Qaeda is going to repossess his motor hom
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SydShamino (547793)

      Nothing besides the pay for the senators that should be doing something else.

      It's all paid for out of the sale price of the freed spectrum. And that price isn't changing.

      ---

      What bothers me a lot more about all of this is that, barely mentioned as an aside during transition conversation, is that many channels will be moving frequencies of their digital stations during the transition.

      Every single local station in Austin has a digital broadcast already. I receive them all wonderfully with my little antenna p

      • by Farmer Pete (1350093) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:21PM (#26677625)
        Here is a link to the final resting places of channels. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf [fcc.gov]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nabsltd (1313397)

        I might lose any stations that move back into VHF.

        This is unlikely.

        Very few stations are choosing to move their digital signal to any of the VHF-Low (2-6) channels, and only a very few UHF antennas won't get good enough reception on VHF-Hi (7-13).

        Austin has only Fox choosing a VHF-Hi channel (7) as their final digital frequency. See here [rabbitears.info] for more information on the final channel assignments and when and how they expect to make the change.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gluefish (899099)
      This is an example of the idea that you should be kind to the puppy by only chopping an inch of his tail at a time.
  • Great (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So instead of having just one date that everyone knew about, the switch for your local stations could happen anytime during a 4-month period. I'm sure that won't cause anymore confusion.
  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:56AM (#26677453) Journal

    Firstly, there's a pigeonhole problem here -- in order for some stations to take up their final digital frequency assignments, other stations will have to move theirs (usually back to their analog channel). This is one of the main reasons it was to be done all at once in the first place.

    Secondly, this is going to be even MORE confusing. OK, so the person living in a cave for the past few months who comes out turns on their TV on February 18 would have gotten nothing. But at least they'd have some clue that something is wrong. With a gradual transition, maybe they'll lose CBS but not NBC and Fox... then the next month they'll lose Fox but keep CBS, etc. That's not making things any simpler.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:55PM (#26677887)

      All our local channels say they aren't delaying, no matter what the congress decides. There are reports last time this came up that some stations have already switched.

      Imagine you're running IT/electrical for one of these channels. You've been planning for months to shut everything off on a certain date. You're planning on rolling out digital channels in early Feb and cutting the analog mid Feb, it'll cost a ton to just switch that plan up.

      • by russotto (537200)

        All our local channels say they aren't delaying, no matter what the congress decides. There are reports last time this came up that some stations have already switched.

        Congress (or the FCC given enough authority from Congress) can say "If you want to keep your digital license, you have to keep your analog station running until the transition."

        Of course, if they do that, it'll be a major problem for stations with facilities leased until 2/17/2009...

        • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
          Considering this new bill says they aren't forcing any of them to keep analog, I don't see this being an issue.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mpe (36238)
          Congress (or the FCC given enough authority from Congress) can say "If you want to keep your digital license, you have to keep your analog station running until the transition."

          On the other hand a station can turn around and say "we have already made all the arrangements to switch and can't rely on the hardware even still being there after the 17th of Feb."
      • While the local channels are likely to face technical problems by a delay, the networks themselves seem to be part of the group lobbying for a delay, hoping [yahoo.com] the switchover can take place after their seasons end.

    • Yea, this is stupid in so many ways. Telling a TV station that they can turn off their analog signal if they want, but that their competition will leave theirs on, is pretty much an assurance that even those who want to make the change in February will wait it out rather than risk the loss of some fools who have not upgraded. And if we have to move the switchover because some dolts are still not ready after a decade of notice and an intense year of in-your-face messages that no one who watches TV could ha
  • Slowly Now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jswinth (528529) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:57AM (#26677459) Homepage
    Yes, yes, lets rip off that bandage as slooooowly as possible so we extend the pain and confusion as long as possible.

    < /sarcasm>
  • WHY?

  • PLEASE stop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:59AM (#26677471)
    There will always be millions of people who will have problems with the switchover. Most are poor and / or elderly. No amount of delay and / or money thrown at the problem will fix it. Just flip the damn switch already and deal with the small percentage of folks negatively affected. Seriously, this has been in the works for years -- if you don't know about it by now, you won't until your picture turns to a bunch of static.
    • by pikine (771084) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:54PM (#26677879) Journal

      I wonder why don't TV stations show an overlay banner saying "This station is available on digital channel ##. The analog channel will be discontinued at DATE. Please contact your local electronics store for how to receive digital broadcast."

      Having people who watch analog TV suddenly go blank without knowing they should switch to digital, that is the colossal failure of broadcast media that can't disseminate information to their audience.

      • The stations around here have all been covering the changeover as news stories for months now, including explaining what to do to be able to keep watching. I assume it's the same elsewhere.

        Overlay banners are annoying. Especially if they would run 24x7

        • by pikine (771084)
          I know people who never watch the news on TV, only their favorite shows. The overlay banners will only be shown on analog channel, so while annoying, I think this is a fair thing to do. Once you take action, the annoyance goes away.
      • by sherriw (794536)

        No, no, they can't do that, they're too busy showing ads for Pepsi or the next reality show or their own translucent logo in the lower right corner of the broadcasts. There's no room for anything that's actually helpful.

        • by triffid_98 (899609) * on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:03PM (#26680115)
          No, no, they can't do that. They used to do that, but now instead of a translucent logo in the lower right corner we have an animated graphic filling up 1/8 of the screen, with accompanying sound overlays. I particularly enjoy the full-throated exhaust notes of Harley drag pipes (Season 5 of American Chopper) as I'm trying to follow interpersonal dialog halfway into a 3 hour movie. Fuck you TNT.

          No, no, they can't do that, they're too busy showing ads for Pepsi or the next reality show or their own translucent logo in the lower right corner of the broadcasts. There's no room for anything that's actually helpful.

  • Why???!?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Directrix1 (157787) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:02PM (#26677485)

    What the fuck is the point of this? That spectrum has a new use which is only getting delayed yet again because of this. Why are they delaying? Its not like TV is something that you can't live without. And if you still haven't figured out that you need to upgrade your TV then either you: A) don't have a brain B) are senile and will probably never get the point C) rarely use your TV so it doesn't matter anyway. If they do this stupid delay I hope they at least make the analog required to just display 24/7 a text message stating that they need a digital TV or converter box with audio of a person reading it it in English and Spanish. Maybe then the last of the morons might get it.

    • by mpe (36238)
      That spectrum has a new use which is only getting delayed yet again because of this. Why are they delaying?

      Which is likely to cost plenty of people money they can't afford.

      Its not like TV is something that you can't live without.

      Anyone who really can't can probably scrape enough money together to buy a converter box. No doubt every TV "repairman" has made sure they have plenty to hand for that weekend :)
  • by shadoelord (163710) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:02PM (#26677487) Homepage

    then please be sure to write your congressman and let them know. It was narrowly defeated last time, so the more people complaining the better chance it will be defeated again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by soupforare (542403)
      The real solution is to stop voting for incumbents. Nothing's going to change until we get rid of career politicians.
  • by chill (34294) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:08PM (#26677529) Journal

    After seeing enough reports on the switch on TV, my wife who hates computers, asked me last night "Can you find the shows I watch online?" After we found them, she then said "What do we need the TV for?" And that is the big question.

    My kids haven't watched TV, other than something in a restaurant or doctor's waiting room, in a couple years now. They watch everything online. Of the three shows my wife watches, two are available online at the network sites and the third can be found via torrents. Actually, all three are available on the network sites, it is just ABC USES SOME FUCKING PROPRIETARY PLAYER THAT DOESN'T WORK ON LINUX! Thus, we either live without that show (no big deal) or hit Pirate Bay. ABC, are you listening? Just use a standard Flash player like everyone else.

    While some of the people still watching broadcast TV don't have broadband, most of those fall into the "old people -- gonna die soon" demographic. What happens to broadcast in 10 years?

    • While some of the people still watching broadcast TV don't have broadband, most of those fall into the "old people -- gonna die soon" demographic.

      ABC USES SOME FUCKING PROPRIETARY PLAYER THAT DOESN'T WORK ON LINUX!

      I think the group of people that miss out on ABC because they use Linux may be smaller than the number that would miss out on ABC because they didn't get a tuner box yet.

      Linux users are in such a small demographic, I doubt any major media company would miss them, it's still too small of a niche.

      • by chill (34294)

        Yeah, but I bitched none-the-less. :-)

        I was just pointing out that both CBS and NBC seem to use a standard Flash player and I didn't have these issues with their competitors. I'll happily do without ABC.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > I think the group of people that miss out on ABC because they use Linux may
        > be smaller than the number that would miss out on ABC because they didn't get
        > a tuner box yet.

        If ABC chooses to do things differently for no good reason, they risk
        their solution having other problems that won't effect their rivals.
        This isn't necessarily just about Linux. They could cause more trouble
        for their Windows viewership. Will it break with Firefox or Opera? Will
        it break with a different version of Windows or IE?

    • by sherriw (794536)

      I'm 28, technologically savvy and I watch free, broadcast TV. Because I refuse to pay for the crap they're offering these days. If there's nothing on... I know that I'm not pay $60/m for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GleeBot (1301227)

        I don't watch broadcast TV (because there aren't many shows on that I want to watch), but I still have a digital TV tuner. It's nice to be able to tune in for big events like the Olympics, or the Super Bowl (if you're into that), or local news when there's a wildfire nearby and things of that nature. And PBS occasionally has something I want to watch, and their digital TV content is usually terrific.

        The Internet is only a replacement for TV if the only use you have for TV is viewing packaged shows. (And e

  • by nickruiz (1185947) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:10PM (#26677545)

    That should be the motto of our government. If the government sets a deadline, they should hold to it, instead of wasting time and tax dollars by pushing back the finish line. What's wrong with making a decision and sticking to it, if there is no quantified risk to continue?

    Just ensure that the vouchers are getting out to the people who haven't received them already. The people can do the rest. If they procrastinate, then let them reap the benefits of procrastination.

    Apologies if I sound troll.

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:11PM (#26677555)
    Or am I doing it wrong?
  • by Captain Digital (908427) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:19PM (#26677603) Homepage
    This from the party of "Green" everything? Here's the REAL story...a buddy of mine (who's dad is the chief engineer at an Amarillo, Texas TV station) tells me that it costs about $10,000 per month in electricity to run a transmitter. That's ONE transmitter - for either analog or digital. When you add a second transmitter, you double the juice, and double the cost. Same data. Same shows. Same commercials - just costs twice as much to air it. Now figure that there are over 300 local TV stations in the US. Delay the transition until June, and you're talking over $12,000,000 in wasted money (that the stations can't bill anybody for) and wasted electricity. How many friggin' mercury-filled florescent lightbulbs and carbon offsets will it take to make up for that kind of waste, hmm? While we're on the subject, how many people in the US don't have either cable or satellite TV? Seriously...I've asked as many low-income people I know or run into, and I've yet to find ANYbody that gets their TV through rabbit ears or a roof antenna. Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy the handful of Luddites new TVs and be done with it?
    • Nevermind the greenies. How many station owners are going to be selling out because they just can't afford to be burning money?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278)

      Sounds like a good reason for the station owners to kill their analog towers on schedule.

    • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:51PM (#26677851)

      Read the story again. Stations can switch over any time they want during the 4 month period. Have all your ducks in a row and don't want to waste money? Go ahead and switch.

      One of the local stations is switching to new frequencies and a new tower and had some delays getting all the new equipment they were buying. Now they've got it but they can't get it installed at the moment because it's the middle of the freaking winter here, and installing new equipment outside is a PITA when a foot of new snow fell in the past couple days.

      Giving the 4 month window allows my local station to wait a few weeks for a window of good weather in the forcast to get all the new equipment set up easily and safely for their workers. If they want to delay a few weeks for ease and safety, letting them sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

      That's the REAL story.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      That has been my experience with low income people as well.. They are either so attached to the low quality media on cable that they are willing to pay for it or don't understand the value of money. I know alot more middle class people who earn a good salary and certainly could divert a little money from savings to cable and choose not to do so.

    • by mpe (36238)
      This from the party of "Green" everything? Here's the REAL story...a buddy of mine (who's dad is the chief engineer at an Amarillo, Texas TV station) tells me that it costs about $10,000 per month in electricity to run a transmitter. That's ONE transmitter - for either analog or digital. When you add a second transmitter, you double the juice, and double the cost.

      It's even worst that than that since with digital you can have several "stations" on one "channel". Which you'd think would keep the "greenies"
    • Just for the sake of screwing up your anecdata, I'll go ahead and tell you that I use rabbit ears. Cable is just not even close to being worth $50/month for me. Not only don't I watch enough TV to make it worth it, I don't want to watch enough to make it worth it - I have nothing against watching TV, but I also don't want to spend 15+ hours a week doing it. I have Netflix, and for a fraction of the price have access to plenty of shows I wouldn't otherwise. Or there's the internet, though I prefer watching t
    • Email me and I'll send you the address you can send my new TV to.

      Seriously, /. is not a representative sample. We're tech people so of course we all have cable/satellite, have known about the transition since the beginning, and know how to download shows off the Internet. For us, Feb 17th is just another day, but for a lot of people it's going to be a big surprise.

      For example, my cable company has been running ads that make Feb 17th sound like the end of a sale their having, not the end of analog broadcast.

  • A waste of effort. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @12:47PM (#26677827) Homepage

    It just kills me that the Obama administration has chosen this issue to be one to focus on. Television? I watch it, I don't have a problem with it. I'm not one of those people who triumphantly claim they don't watch television as if it makes them smarter.

    But let's get real here. Television just isn't all that important, especially compared to say... health care, the economy, energy, torture, "the terrorists", North Korea, Putin, Russia, global warming, the housing crisis, Israel/Palestinian, New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Melamine, Salmonella, Gitmo, domestic spying, illegal immigration, crumbling infra-structure, and a host of other issues I'd rather just forget about. Each of those expands into a whole different set of problems, and they all interact with one another.

    But.. the television switchover that's been going on in some fashion for the last 10 years is one of the FIRST issues the administration has chosen to take on. Why? I have my suspicions, mostly about Democrats being in bed with Big Content (hey, whenever you refer to Big it's bad.. right?).

    The justification is just bizarre. The poor and technically inept might be without TV for a little while. I know around here we like to brow-beat anyone that's "stupid", or a technophile as if they deserve what they get. I'm not a big believer in that, but I am a believer in priorities. The people who television is THAT important to have gotten a converter. The people remaining might just have to go without for a while until they decide it's a priority. But yet this whole thing gets sold to us like it's an essential element to survival. Just yesterday I saw an ad from a local broadcaster urging people to "help their neighbors" in making sure they can get the digital broadcast, as if a hurricane has torn down houses, or a snowstorm has buried everyone in snow. This isn't a disaster... It's just television.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @01:02PM (#26677949)

      But Television is today's form of circuses. It keeps the general unwashed masses happy, entertained, and more worried about what happened on Idol as apposed to people worrying or taking an interest in health care, the economy, energy, torture, "the terrorists", North Korea, Putin, Russia, global warming et. al.

       

    • A lot of people depend on tv for news so in a disaster it could be crucial information, though I will point out that there's radio as well in such an incident. But more relevant to the everyday, the tv is a source of news in the home and considering that most people are more visually oriented, tv is a better medium than the radio for most information.

      And yes, there do exist places where there is no broadband and with the recession, some newspapers have decided to cut off delivery service so that people can

    • by theodicey (662941)

      How is "The Senate" = "The Obama Administration"?

      Obama is doing almost nothing about this bill, although I don't think he would veto it.

      Individual Representatives and Senators, who are very concerned with elderly people who have nothing to do but watch TV and vote, are driving pretty much the whole thing.

    • It just kills me that the Obama administration has chosen this issue to be one to focus on.

      Just because Obama supports the delay doesn't mean it's either his or his administration's focus.

    • Have you looked at what obama has spent his time with each day since getting in power? Hes made front page news with something he was changing almost every day....

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      It just kills me that the Obama administration has chosen this issue to be one to focus on. Television? [...] But let's get real here. Television just isn't all that important,

      If The People can't see what The Media wants them to see, then the push by The Media to get into Obama elected would be wasted. And no, I didn't vote for McCain or Barr; I just objectively agree that there was one-sided coverage.

  • Can someone explain for non US residents what the problem is? In the UK, I can buy a digital receiver for £20 in my local supermarket, which plugs into any TV with a SCART socket (any newer TV with HDMI really ought to have a digital receiver built-int). For a bit more, you get a digital receiver with harddisk recorder. Quality is close to DVD, five times more programs available, so there is no need for subsidies. The only problem is when your reception is bad, because the digital TV quality in that c
    • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @01:04PM (#26677971)

      Our big friendly goverment decided to give away the boxes you reference, FOR FREE. They did this by issuing coupons worth $50 or so IIRC. Like most things given away by the government for free, lots of people who didn't need them got two or three of these boxes and stuck them on a shelf in their garage, where they're still collecting dust. Of course, the coupons ran out, and now some in our congress are claiming that the program was underfunded. It's a typical Washington clusterfuck -- exactly the sort of thing that happens when bureaucrats decide there's a huge "problem" somewhere and its solution requires spending tens of millions of our tax dollars.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Actually they're not free, and they're not your tax dollars.

        They're not free because even with the coupon, you still have to pay $15 or so to get a box, so I suspect many "unneeded" coupons will never be redeemed.

        And they're not your tax dollars because the proceeds for the program came from the sale of the reclaimed RF spectrum.

    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @01:13PM (#26678049)

      Can someone explain for non US residents what the problem is?

      The problem is that when Abraham Lincoln and Jesse Helms wrote the constitution, they made it a right for the American people to have television. Now, 350 years later, congress changed the way TV has always been delivered - from an anolog microsft tower in Denver to a newer more technologically advanced 60 watt digital station located in Southern Pennsylvania.

      The confusion has resulted in NASCAR cancelling their season, resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue for Bud Light (a subsidiary of the Coors Brewing Company located in South Africa).

      I hope that helps.

    • by w9wi (162482)

      I would venture a guess what triggered this was problems in the DTV coupon program [dtv2009.gov].

      This program offers each household up to two coupons. (in the form of cards, similar to a debit card) Each coupon could be redeemed for US$40 off the price of a digital receiver. Digital receivers are selling for around US$60-65.

      The coupon program has more or less run out of money. "more or less" because they're finding many, many coupons are being ordered but never redeemed. They do have an expiration period. (90 days)

      • by mpe (36238)
        I would venture a guess what triggered this was problems in the DTV coupon program.
        This program offers each household up to two coupons. (in the form of cards, similar to a debit card) Each coupon could be redeemed for US$40 off the price of a digital receiver. Digital receivers are selling for around US$60-65.


        Another thing you can expect is that the absolute minimum price of such a unit is that value of the coupon. Which may have kept the price artificially high in the US. In places without such "assista
  • by w9wi (162482) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#26678007)

    The original bill [loc.gov] didn't require analog stations to stay on until June either.

    (if the link breaks, try this PDF link [gpo.gov])

    See Sec. 4, paragraph (a) which states in part: "Nothing in this Act is intended to prevent a licensee of a television broadcast station from terminating the broadcasting of such station's analog television signal (and continuing to broadcast exclusively in the digital television service) prior to the date established by law under section 3002(b) of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 for termination of all licenses for full-power television stations in the analog television service (as amended by section 2 of this Act) so long as such prior termination is conducted in accordance with the Federal Communications Commission's requirements in effect on the date of enactment of this Act,.."

    (typical government wordiness)

    What it means is that before this bill was introduced, stations could sign off their analogs before Feb. 17th upon giving 30 days notice to the FCC and the viewers. Should the bill pass into law, paragraph (a) ensures they can still sign off before June 12th, again provided they give 30 days notice.

    Several hundred stations have already given such notice. Including most of the major-network affiliates in Nashville, New Orleans, and Wichita among other cities.

    The proposed new bill [loc.gov] (PDF version [gpo.gov]) contains the same paragraph.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Except they probably have to re-announce termination when this becomes law, so they can't switch over on the 17th.
  • The Pork was lacking, so a message was sent and the bill failed. Hopefully the lobbyists and the authors of the next version get it right and grease all the palms sufficiently next time. There is NO way the US Guv is going to unplug a couple million baby-sitters and chance widespread formation of individual thoughts and consternation. Ain't gonna happen.

  • My $0.02 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Khan (19367) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:26PM (#26679097)

    If they had set the cut off date to Feb 1st (Super Bowl Sunday), I bet all of those lazy ass idiots would have scrambled to get their boxes cut over. Now THAT would have generated a "stimulus package" without costing us any $$. Circuit City might even have remained in business, too. :-)

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @05:01PM (#26679721) Homepage

    The delay is justified, for two reasons. First, the coupon program was bungled, and running out of coupons shows that consumers are NOT clueless, MORE have responded than expected, because they are doing their best to prepare.

    Second, as nearly as I can tell, nothing is being done to prepare consumers for the channel reassignments that will occur along with the analog shutdown. A significant number of stations will be changing their assigned frequency for digital transmission, and quite a lot of them will be changing from UHF to VHF.

    At the very least you'll need to do a channel rescan. If I were a station like WHDH, the big Channel 7 NBC affiliate in Boston, I'd long since have posted directions on my website telling people about this and, if possible, telling them how to do a manual channel rescan. But they haven't.

    Now, if you have a honkin' big old UHF/VHF rooftop antenna left over from the eighties, and you buy a converter box, you'll be fine. But if you bought one of those nice, compact, inexpensive "HDTV antenna" they've been selling for several years now, that, my friends, is a UHF antenna and you'll lose any digital stations that move to VHF. Maybe not, if they're powerful enough. But I don't know how on earth you can find out before the actual moment arrives.

    And if you don't have a big honkin' VHF antenna on your roof already, February 17th is not a great time to be up there installing one.

    So, check antennaweb.org [antennaweb.org] for those channel reassignments, because I suspect some of the smug digerati are not quite as prepared for the transition as they think they are.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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