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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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RE: spin
By Master Kenobi (blog) 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.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay














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