Print 44 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Feb 18 at 10:29 PM

The new stimulus bill looks like it should definitely help to make the analog to digital transition easier.

The analog to digital switch in the U.S. has been a rather confusing and chaotic one.  The idea of mandating all stations to instantly cut off analog broadcasts overnight alarmed some, who point out that other countries phased out analog state by state or by province gradually. 

The key point of contention was the government's DTV converter coupon program.  The program offered those with analog TV sets free coupons for converters which would allow their TVs to receive digital signals.  The problem was that the government underestimated the demand for the coupons, and quickly ran out of them.  Thus, the bipartisan-backed decision was made to delay the transition from the planned date of February 17 to June 12.

The good news is that the government finally appears to be close to solving the coupon shortage problem, thanks to the new stimulus bill.  Government officials say that the coupon waiting list of 4 million households should be cleared in 2 to 3 weeks.  This is fortunate as many stations are switching over early, sticking to the original February 17 date.  An estimated 10 to 20 million households have older analog sets which cannot receive digital broadcasts without a converter box. 

The switch to digital has many benefits including free up air space for public safety official and the improvement of viewing quality.  It also netted the government $20B USD in profits from a wireless spectrum auction, and allowed the government to at last offer the much-desired "white-space" spectrum -- gaps between TV channels -- for use.

While many are upset about the switch being delayed, the wait may actually have a positive economic effect by increasing the number of new cable customers.  Stanford Washington Research analyst Paul Gallant says that cable companies like Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Group, EchoStar Corp, Mediacom Communications, and Charter Communications are using the extra time to encourage more customers to switch to cable packages, one way of preparing for the digital switch.

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By Dreifort on 2/18/2009 10:14:41 AM , Rating: 3
Thus, the bipartisan-backed decision was made to delay the transition from the planned date of February 17 to June 12.

It wasn't bipartisan-backed originally...

After some negotiation and some amendments to the bill, it looks as though Senate Republicans are now on board with delaying the date for the transition.

Under the new deal, the transition date will be delayed until June 12. But TV stations will be allowed to switch to digital signals before that date. And if a station chooses to switch to digital before the official transition date, the vacant spectrum will be made available to public safety officials.

Only after negotiating to let TV Stations switch prior to new deadline did republicans agree to approve the DTV Delay Act (what a dumb bill name).

RE: spin
By Master Kenobi on 2/18/2009 10:18:04 AM , Rating: 3
It's stupidity regardless. People do not need $40 coupons to make their TV's work. The darn device is ONLY $60. Here's an idea, government deals straight with the companies ensuring that the MSRP on the shelf is $20, and for every one sold, the government gives them $40. Damn, lets eat lunch.

RE: spin
By greywood on 2/18/2009 10:34:37 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, but then you couldn't create a whole new bureaucracy, to waste more money ever gets through in the form of coupons! Don'ntcha just love the way govmints "think"?

RE: spin
By DCstewieG on 2/18/2009 10:48:52 AM , Rating: 5
I would bet that if these coupons disappeared, you'd have a bunch of converters - like the ones going for $40.01 - drop 20 bucks off the price instantly. The government is just handing these companies money. Market forces and good ol' competition alone would have probably served us well.

RE: spin
By Suomynona on 2/18/09, Rating: 0
RE: spin
By therealnickdanger on 2/18/2009 11:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
No, because the manufacturers were lobbying alongside the bleeding-hearts to get more coupons printed because they knew it would pass! Why drop the price when the profit-machine can keep moving?

RE: spin
By TSS on 2/18/2009 10:07:39 PM , Rating: 3
why would you lower the price when you already know that the good ol' goverment will give you more money later, if you keep the price high?

RE: spin
By mindless1 on 2/18/2009 10:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
They ran out, but the last waves of coupons issued hadn't expired yet.

RE: spin
By inperfectdarkness on 2/18/2009 2:14:23 PM , Rating: 2
we could have simply mandated that all tv's have native support for DTV circa 2003. that would have eliminated 80% of the problem right there.

unfortunately...we have bureaucrats in washington.

RE: spin
By mindless1 on 2/18/2009 10:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
True, that would've been a good move, or the opposite, delay the digital transition another few years.

We don't like the latter choice, but in the grand scheme of things it's the same as the former meaning if we moved TV integration forward we could've already had OTA DTV for awhile as we will in June.

RE: spin
By Bender 123 on 2/18/2009 10:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
Thank goodness...this will stimulate the economy. Look out prosperity! HERE WE COME!!!

RE: spin
By Aberforth on 2/18/2009 11:02:04 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, this will stimulate the economy by helping people save money.

RE: spin
By Bender 123 on 2/18/2009 11:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
If its taxpayer funded, we are still paying for it...

RE: spin
By Aberforth on 2/18/2009 11:36:02 AM , Rating: 1
Just remember, the same taxpayers in the household and financial sector ruined the economy.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 11:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
So what? You think a one time 40 dollar coupon for a TV converter box is going to fix our economic problems in any meaningful, long term way? Meanwhile, someone is going to have to pay for all of these coupons.

RE: spin
By Aberforth on 2/18/2009 11:52:28 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry to see no one here has been to a business school. Have you read the stimulus bill? Goto and download a copy of that bill. Let me tell you how it works: coupons will help people save money, along with the other benefits provided in the bill, it will also help generating funds to manufacturers and distributors across USA that will add up to the economic growth.

RE: spin
By clovell on 2/18/2009 12:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
Have you read all 1000+ pages, professor? Two coupons per household is a dumb idea - one would have sufficed and probably would have kept us from running out of funds so quickly.

Saving money isn't the problem here - spending is.

RE: spin
By Aberforth on 2/18/2009 12:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I've read it, it's very big but interesting nonetheless, if the crisis gets worse (which i doubt) this bill will be a very good document of things you shouldn't do. Coupons are just a part of the bill, the point of this bill is to generate jobs by creating new stuff and Providing additional funds to the current projects (like energy efficiency) will demand more jobs and at the same time doubles the rate of the project.

RE: spin
By clovell on 2/18/2009 12:25:19 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, well, I didn't think you'd have actually read it...

RE: spin
By Chaser on 2/18/2009 2:04:55 PM , Rating: 2
History has shown that government's can't spend their way out of economic problems. Its been tried and proven to fail, throughout history and in other countries. And no, war time doesn't count.

Our present leaders pushed this threw overnight so that the President could cheerfully fly out to Denver over the weekend to hold a press conference of this wonder entitlement increase "stimulus" package that will further government dependence and the expectations of the nanny state. Such as "Tax credits" to those that pay no taxes, -hmmm I'm not sure how that works- Wonderful. Just what we needed afer these millions of foreclosures for the same people that had no business getting mortgages in the first place. We will mail them a check for the tax refund they never paid into.

I know I feel better already.

OH and this just in: Obama has announced a 75 billion foreclosure plan. Now there is change we can believe in.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 3:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
Such as "Tax credits" to those that pay no taxes, -hmmm I'm not sure how that works- Wonderful.

Get with the times man. It is considered sound economic policy to take money out of the hands of people who use that money to do filthy things like get returns by investing it, and handing it out to the poor who then proceed to spend it on crap.

When I take over the world, I will have a circular system.

Soak the rich and give the money to the poor. Eventually the poor will fritter away all the money they've been given, and it'll end up in the hands of the rich again. In the meantime, there will be loads of economic activity. Once you reach a certain point, fleece the rich again, so the cycle can continue. Its perfect! I mean yeah, you have to make sure the rich don't move away or anything like that, but thats nothing a few well armed patriots can't take care of.

RE: spin
By omnicronx on 2/18/2009 12:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
There are a vast majority of people who have cable/sat in their main room, and have TV's with bunny ears in their rooms or basement.

I really don't blame the lack of coupons on this, but those who really did not need them in the first place. Do you know how many cable users thought they needed a converter box? (wouldn't surprise me if some people still think that)

RE: spin
By Bender 123 on 2/18/2009 12:31:12 PM , Rating: 3
For the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000th time...TV is not a right of the people. Just as Radio is not a right or receiving a newspaper is not laid out in the documents of our government.

If we wanted to get extreme, why cant the government subsidize computers for my mother? Hers is old and her ancient TV. Arguably, the computer and internet is a much more useful tool for communication and entertainment than network TV could ever be.

I have been to Business school and grad school and have been the manager of a multi million dollar medical facility for many years. I just do not see how this helps anybody get out of financial trouble...

RE: spin
By Chaser on 2/18/2009 12:41:30 PM , Rating: 1
Excuse me, but my Dancing With the Stars will not be silenced. It's my right.

And now I will wait quietly for a couple more years when those fat cats fund my 51 inch LCD HDTV coupon in the next "stimulus" plan.

RE: spin
By Bender 123 on 2/18/2009 2:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
How foolish of of my hypocrisy...I demand the government intervene and tell me what the deal is with the Others on Lost...And Obama really needs to stimulate the writers of Heroes. that show has been sliding along with the economy.

Maybe he can mandate more seasons of Battlestar Galactica while he's at it. Seeing more Number 6 always seems to "stimulate" something.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 12:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry to see no one here has been to a business school.

Curiously enough, I have. One thing I learned is to put my money where it gets the best return on investment; this basic tenet becomes signifcantly more important when you're borrowing the funds for the initial investment and you eventually have to pay it back with interest. Now what can I say, I don't see a big ROI by using the national credit card to help six million idiots who probably don't know what ROI stands for to buy DTV converter boxes.

RE: spin
By clovell on 2/18/2009 11:51:48 AM , Rating: 2
Uh no - painting both smart and stupid taxpayers in the household and financial sector with the same brush doesn't make sense.

RE: spin
By therealnickdanger on 2/18/2009 12:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
A couple likely scenarios:

1. People that failed to pay their mortgages perhaps don't need to buy these boxes because they spent all their money on a big HDTV they "deserved" when buying their house.

2. People that still own their homes, pay their mortgages, and are responsible either already own an HDTV because they could afford it OR they budget themselves well enough that they could afford a one-time $60 purchase anyway.

3. Either way... it's f*cking TELEVISION, not clean drinking water or bread! 98% of people below the poverty line own at LEAST one television... I think they can afford a $60 coverter box if it's that important to them.

RE: spin
By Aberforth on 2/18/2009 12:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
NASA spends billions a year (taxpayers money) trying to find life on mars since 1960's, there is no return value for that money.

RE: spin
By clovell on 2/18/2009 12:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
How shortsighted of you.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 2:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
Neil Armstrong's setting foot on the moon may not have netted us much more than some rocks. However, the R&D that NASA has undertaken to solve various problems has assuredly had an impact on our lives.

RE: spin
By therealnickdanger on 2/18/2009 3:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Oh man, don't even know how to respond to that one without writing a novel... so I won't. The advancements brought to society via military and NASA technology is not only worth every penny spent on those programs, but I would have gladly pay double.

RE: spin
By rudy on 2/18/2009 11:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
I will also say this the problem will not go away, honestly how many people needed converters for old tvs? My guess is the overwelming demand was alot of fraud. The government is giving away free access to 40$ bills. Fake addresses and receipts would be made up by the thousands. Now they just opened it up for these people to keep doing it till this round of funding runs out.

RE: spin
By Suomynona on 2/18/2009 11:22:28 AM , Rating: 2
It's a coupon for a specific product, it's not just a check for $40. I'm sure you could buy a couple and sell them on eBay to make a couple bucks, but it's hardly worth the effort.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 11:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
but it's hardly worth the effort.

To you or me perhaps. To a person barely able to make ends meet, who knows.

RE: spin
By omnicronx on 2/18/2009 12:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why would someone go though the trouble to buy a DTV coupon when you would end up paying the same price if you just went to the store and bought a converter box without one.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 12:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
Then the question must be asked: why do we have the coupons in the first place if they don't lower the price the customer pays?

RE: spin
By omnicronx on 2/18/2009 12:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are confused about what I am saying. DTV boxes cost around 50 dollars, if I was to buy my friends coupon for $40, I would still end up paying that same $50 if you had a coupon or not.($40 coupon i bought + $10 in store)

Those that received and actually used their coupons only have to pay the difference i.e $10.

I'm just saying hardly anyone was applying for these coupons to sell them, because nobody in their right mind would buy it.

RE: spin
By Steve1981 on 2/18/2009 1:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying an entrepreneurial dirtbag would sell the coupons for full price. If the dirtbag paid nothing for these coupons and he's got a low enough opportunity cost, he can easily afford to sell them off for 5-10 bucks and make a few quick bucks.

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