And so the digital conversion quickly approaches. Set for Febrauary 17th, 2009, the United States is prepped to change all broadcast signals from analog to digital with the flip of a switch but that date may be delayed by the Obama administration.
In a letter to The Congress, Obama asked for the conversion date to be moved to July. Meanwhile, the federal government will re-fund the coupon program in the hopes many more people will be able to get the digital conversion box needed by those who don’t have a cable or satellite provider (which automatically convert the signal for the consumer). What we’re really talking about is the millions of people who watch over-the-air TV through “rabbit ears” antenna. Come February 17, that signal vanishes into the pages of history. Obama fears a disproportionate impact to lower income families and thus, wants to hold off. He may be right but it makes no difference.
The broadcast networks, the FCC, the local affiliates, and everyone else who will be involved in the transition has long known the date and have spent millions of dollars on advertising and equipment to be prepared for whatever may come. It doesn’t matter when the date actually hits, there will be chaos for a few weeks as people realize their signal is gone and panic. Re-fundingÂ the coupon program will only help a small number of those lost between the analog and digital worlds; there is only so much money to go around.
So I say let it happen. Whether it is done now or later, the digital conversion will cause problems. Let’s just do it now, get the best handle on it and work forward from there. Some pundits believe Obama doesn’t want the impending failure of this program to be viewed as a black mark in his first 100 days in office. I hardly think this would be counted against him since the plan has been in place for years but, when it comes to politics, on never knows the real motivation.
The bottom line: many consumers are confused by the transition. Heck, until a short time ago, I thought it was one thing when it turned out to be something slightly different. And I consider myself a tech-hound. Chaos will happen, regardless of when they flip the switch but perhaps waiting until the summer viewing schedule means people won’t miss this season’s American Idol! You thinking I’m kidding?