The digital TV transition will be a mess no matter when the deadline is

by David Spark on January 18, 2009

Come February 17th, that’s the date when all the stations turn off their analog TV broadcast signals and we only have digital transmissions. Everyone who still uses rabbit ears (not cable or satellite) to get their TV will be affected.

OK, if you haven’t heard that in the past year and a half you’ve done an amazing job completely ignoring the news or you just moved to this country yesterday. If so, welcome.

Barack Obama and his incoming administration want to push back the cut off date for analog TV three months because the government’s ability to issue coupons has been pretty lame and the public’s ability to get converter boxes is probably more lame.

No matter how many alerts and education we give, the government won’t issue the coupons fast enough and people won’t get their converter boxes until the last minute. And it doesn’t matter when that last minute is, today, tomorrow, February 17th, or three years from then.

I have been watching this digital TV transition story for years. We’ve delayed the date a million times already. And every time they delay it, it’s as if the government is saying to the public, “OK, we gave you a break this time. But now we REALLY mean it.” Oh please, just pull the damn analog plug and deal with the fallout afterwards. People aren’t reacting because it’s not a problem now. Want to see the government and the public move a lot faster? Pull the analog switch now and watch everyone be very resourceful. If they don’t know why their TV went black, they’ll start asking around or be a complete idiot and call the local TV station and ask, “Where are my stories?” Americans don’t plan ahead, we reach to problems. And when your TV goes out, that’s a problem. You don’t NEED a converter box now. You will when the TV goes blank. Why not just wait until you have a problem?

The ones who are going to be hurt the most are TV stations and TV networks who will quickly see their Nielsen numbers go down as a result of a portion of their audience simply disappearing on February 17th or whenever the date is. They’ll have to hand out make goods to all their advertisers for not delivering the rating numbers they promised.

For those of you who haven’t picked up a converter box yet, I bet Circuit City has some deals. They’ve got a liquidation sale going on.

This news item is for the Spark Minute week of 1/19/09 which can be heard daily on Green 960 and 910 KNEW in San Francisco, CA.

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