Thursday, January 8, 2009

39 Days and counting....

I heard a countdown today: “Only 39 days until…” and immediately looked at the calendar. It’s January 8th and the inauguration’s on the 20th. Hhhmmm…? Far fewer than 39 days.

“… the end of analog television.” Ah, the end of television, not the peaceful transition of government upon which our great country was founded. “And the Consumer Union is lobbying Congress to delay the February 17th deadline as they’re convinced millions of households are going to be left without television.”

Congress began a new session this week. A new party comes to power. Both Minnesota and Illinois are without junior Senators. The country’s still facing economic turmoil, recessions, a possible depression, record unemployment, bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit, consumer fear and ongoing arguments over stimulus packages, just to name a few minor problems. Seems to me that the 111th Congress has more important issues to legislate than the end of analog television. Then again, it was Congress that mandated it in the first place.

Why are we switching? According to (a website by the Federal Communication Commission and available in 21 languages, thank you very much): “An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads).” Seems fair. Public safety and all.

“Also, some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).” Okay, there’s the rub: the cash: “auctioned.”

My question really isn’t about whether or not we need to switch or who gets rich because of it. It’s about the supposed millions who are going to be left without television. Haven’t they been watching for the last year or two? Haven’t they seen all the commercials and newscasts about the switch to digital TV? Could they possibly be unaware that if they don’t take action, they’ll be left without beloved television? As I figure it, they only way they could have missed this would be if they weren’t watching in the first place. And if that’s the case, they probably won’t miss it after February 17th. Right? A perfect Catch-22.

And for those with older TV’s who might be learning about the switch to digital by reading this blog, here’s a note: through a government-established program, every household is eligible for $40 coupons toward the purchase of a converter box so you can still see TV programming. And hey, you can get two of them.

Makes me wonder if the 111th Congress is going to send eighty bucks to those people who don’t watch television in the first place….

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