Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big Switch

DailyTech reported earlier this month that the Obama transition team isn't too happy with the current state of the analog to digital TV (DTV) switch. The funds made available to provide $40 DTV conversion boxes to Americans ran out at the start of 2009 and many Americans would be left without TV signals once the DTV switch occurs next month.

In the latest saga concerning the DTV switch, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced legislation to delay the switch until June 12. Obama and his team fully support this move as they feel that more time is needed to provide additional funding for $40 DTV converter box coupons.

John Podesta, Co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, stated earlier this month that the DTV switch cannot possibly take place on February 17 as planned because, "The government's programs to assist consumers through the upheaval of the conversion are inadequately funded." Podesta added, "There is insufficient support for the problems consumers (particularly low income, rural and elderly Americans) will experience as a result of the analog signal cutoff."

"The federal government is getting $19 billion from selling the analog TV spectrum while people with analog TVs have to go out and spend their own money for a converter box," said Joel Kelsey, policy analyst for Consumers Union, in a statement. "Everyone affected by the digital switch should be able to get their $40 coupons. Congress needs to consider delaying the transition until these problems are fixed."

The government has spent virtually all of the $1.4 billion that was allocated for the program. One problem is that the $40 coupons expire after 90 days, and many coupon holders couldn't find converter boxes at first. When they did, the coupons had expired. Consumers have been placed on waiting lists for the coupons with no clear dates set for their availability.

-----This conversion does not effect cable TV users - so tell me how many folks these days are still using antennae?

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