The digital transition set to happen on February 17, 2009 has been talked about for years now. It's hard to watch TV on local stations that broadcast over-the-air without being blasted with numerous reminders that if you watch over-the-air, you will need a converter.
Despite the incessant reminders that the digital transition is set for next month, there is an astonishing number of TV viewers across the country that are not ready for the transition. Today the Nielsen Company reported that the number of homes in the U.S. not ready for the digital transition totals 6.5 million.
The glut of procrastinators not moving to prepare for the digital transition has been worrying some in Washington for months now. In October, the Government Accountability Office warned that the government wasn't ready for the last minute surge of viewers would need one of the millions of converter coupons that the government was providing.
In late December, reports started coming in that the government would run out of coupons in early January, meaning late coupon requests would go unfulfilled. This and other concerns led Obama to ask that the Digital Transition be postponed from the widely publicized February 17 date to June 12 of 2009.
It seems that Obama is going to get his wish with reports coming in that the Senate is on the verge of passing a bill that would postpone the transition until June. If the bill fails to be passed all stations in America will have to turn off analog broadcasts and move to all digital broadcasts in February.
Some Senators are drafting a few minor changes and the Senate is expected to pass the bill unanimously. However, one of the Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas, said, "[the June 12 date is] an option, not a mandate [for broadcasters]."
The reason the Senate cites for not making the change to June 12 mandatory is that if broadcasters have already invested in the needed equipment for the digital transition, the cost to broadcast both digital and analog programming could be very expensive.
Hutchison said, "If the broadcaster has invested in the equipment, they can go ahead after Feb. 17 so they don't have to do both, because that could be very expensive."
Dow Jones Newswires reports that the waiting list for converter coupons from the Commerce Department is at 2.5 million, a bit less than half the number of homes that the Nielsen Company estimates are unprepared for the transition.
One of the changes being made to the bill before the Senate votes on it is a provision that will allow consumers who previously requested a coupon and then didn’t use it to reapply for a new coupon. The coupons expire 90 days after they are issued and people can’t reapply.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller said, "There are 16 million people out there where it's going to go black, their TV sets," Rockefeller said. "I don't want that to happen."
House Republicans have voiced opposition to the change in the mandated transition noting the cost to broadcaster and confusion to consumers who have been blasted with public service announcements for months.
quote: You might consider in the future judging people by what they have done , and what they chose to do, rather than what they say;
quote: Obama is our Leader. Obama is our Hero. All is good. All is well. We will all be wealthy. We will all be saved. Obama. Obama. Obama!
quote: its not like it affects your quality of service in any way.
quote: You have to wonder what the real source of the delay is. Broadcasters not being ready? Or manufacturers that want to sell the last of the old stock?
quote: Now, in his second prominent act as Majority Leader since the election, as AP reports tonight, he's considering going ahead with the seating of MN's Al Franken, despite the fact that Franken's opponent, former Sen. Norm Coleman, is allowed, by state law, to challenge the results of the election --- which found that he lost by 225 votes --- in a court of law before the election is certified by the state's SoS and Governor.
quote: There are Republicans in the Senate, too. And if the vote is unanimous, as is predicted in the article, that means all of them would have voted for this, not just the Democrats.
quote: I just hope he delivers what he has promised.
quote: Would that be what he promised leading up to winning the election, or what he has since backpeddled with after winning the election?
quote: Yeah, but look at those expectations. A lot of people were probably expecting everything to be fixed as soon as he was sworn in.
quote: McCain would be doing the same thing.
quote: It amazes me how many people here are so adept at seeing into the future to criticize everything that the rest of us haven't seen yet.
quote: . I have supported Obama because he has campaigned for change
quote: Indefinite detention of terror suspects
quote: Torture/harsh interrogation tactics
quote: As for things a President could 'fix' in 4 years, here's a list of some things Obama has already started 'fixing': Indefinite detention of terror suspects Extraordinary rendition Torture/harsh interrogation tactics Open government (really, that's a decision made every day) Lobbyist relations with the White House
quote: Agreed. Yes, there are millions who haven't made the switch, but how long have we all known about this deadline? They've been blasting us with commercials on the switch constantly.
quote: I think the Japanese went through three or four different specs in the same time it took us to come up with one.
quote: And if you think this is a mess, just wait until they decide to switch over to MPEG-4 encoding. Think it couldn't be any worse than the current situation?
quote: But yeah, everything about the entire HDTV plan has been completely jacked up
quote: Both television and radio, in addition to providing entertainment, also perform a function to serve the public. Those tests of the Emergency Broadcast System are not for shits and grins. Sadly we've gotten really far away from the entire notion of serving the public good (just look at Faux News), but maybe this is a chance to start making our way back to that.
quote: By FITCamaro on 1/23/2009 9:07:05 AMScientists who's names I can pronounce!
quote: Everything I hear about and see scares the crap out of me.
quote: Okay, really seriously now, are you actually scared by Obama's pledge to make government more open, where national security isn't at stake?
quote: you'd be pissed and want compensation.
quote: And considering how much they made off selling the spectrum, I think they can afford to give some of it back to the taxpayers.
quote: Consider this hypothetical situation, if you bought a car that got less than 20 mpg, then a year later the government said you may no longer drive any car that gets less then 20 mpg, you'd be pissed and want compensatio
quote: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller said, "There are 16 million people out there where it's going to go black, their TV sets," Rockefeller said. "I don't want that to happen."
quote: "I smell brains"