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 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.

"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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