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 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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