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April 21, 2014

Coupons offered for digital TV switch

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 13th 2007 2:48PM

antennaOn February 19, 2009 all television will switch from an analog to a digital signal. Anyone who doesn't either purchase a special box for digital conversion or purchase a TV specifically designed to receive a digital signal will be dragged into the town square and ritualistically murdered. Those who escape will live out the rest of their days in fear as they're hunted down and exterminated one by one.

Well, maybe it won't be that bad, but it's certainly going to be interesting to see how smooth this whole "digital conversion" thing goes.

To help things move smoothly, the Department of Commerce will offer forty dollar coupons toward the purchase of a special box that will allow analog TVs to receive a digital signal. Despite the effort, it probably still won't be enough to help all analog set owners switch to digital. Congress is hoping enough people will make the switch on their own to lessen the demand for the boxes.

My one (and admittedly obvious) suggestion is that our average TV watcher needs this whole "conversion" thing explained in simple terms. If the government is good at anything, it's making simple things complicated, so some kind of ad campaign that spells it out for people in plain English would be ideal.

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summer

I just keep thinking about my 80-something year old grandmother who lives in a small, podunk town without cable or a retail store. how is she going to understand the whole conversion to digital thing, let alone afford it? i agree, someone needs to make it really simple for the older people, who aren't interested in great picture or sound, just an episode of jeopardy and the local news.

March 14 2007 at 12:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K

Wow Phish, pretty ignorant. She was talking about the fact the she relies on closed captioning, and that thus far her experiences with closed captioning through an HD cable box have been frustrating. I'm all for progress and passionately try to get others to embrace it, but its important that someone who needs to have closed captioning is able to use the feature.

Fortunately this is a flaw in some HD cable box design and not inherently part of digital transmission. Once better boxes are adopted by cable companies (which may be the biggest hurdle of all) closed captioning should work well.

Cable companies do like to make money from boxes, but it is still better if they shut off analog. It not only will allow more channels (especially HD channels), it will allow better looking channels with less compression. Many cable companies will also have a very basic box that won't cost that much.

March 13 2007 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phish

Dear Judy,

I think its time for you and your 'hubby' to pack your bags, enter the time machine, and travel back to 1867 where i am SURE life would be much better for you.

If that is not possible, then i suggest you gouge your eyes out sometime before 2009, so you wont have to deal CHANGE and PROGRESS!

Rgds,

March 13 2007 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Judy

You guys think you have it bad. Consider we hard of hearing people who depend heavily on closed captioning. Will it be compatible? Many of us are thinking not.

Last year, hubby ordered high definition from Comcast and every time I watched a show on one of those channels, the closed caption came up but disappeared almost immediately. Even the speediest speedreader would not have been able to see what it said. We had FIVE Comcast technicians come and they brought three different boxes thinking that was the problem. No one could fix the problem, so we finally got rid of high definition programs.

Now I shudder to think of what lies in wait for me in 2009.

March 13 2007 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Niraj

Gene, Actually in the Chicago area, Comcast is offering to upgrade people to digital for an additional $2.99/month for the enhanced cable plan, and the first box is free (they're normally another $2/month).

March 13 2007 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gene

Not only will Comcast discontinue analog service, they're already DOING so in some places. They'll sell their digital transition as allowing more channels over the same cable (meaning more pay-per-view and shopping channels) when in fact it means that they'll reap huge profits by eliminating the ability for customers to hook a cable directly to their set, requiring a set-top box for every TV at $10 per month.

March 13 2007 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

It's just so hard to get a straight answer to things--it's such a complicated mess. For example, I have analog cable and an analog TV without a cable box. As I understand the law, my cable provider could continue to provide this service, doing the digital/analog translation at their end, and leaving me in peace. But I have a horrible feeling that Comcast (motto: we HATE our customers) will discontinue its analog cable service and force everyone to get their digital service, blaming the new law.

I think there are a lot of people who are in the middle here -- not getting their TV off-the-air, but also not yet in the digital world. Just getting your ordinary analog cable feed. And it's VERY hard to figure out what happens to them--I mean us.

March 13 2007 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago about people buying HDTVs and not getting HD signals because they don't fully understand the technology and/or the capabilities of their new televisions.

I bought mine -- a 50-inch Samsung DLP -- a month ago and LOVE it. I find myself watching a lot of programming I never did before just because the picture is so amazing (especially on Discovery and PBS).

March 13 2007 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BillS

I'm betting that the date will get pushed back again. "Your TV doesn't work any more because my opponent wouldn't vote to save it" is not what your congressmen want to hear when they run for re-election.

http://popculturejunk.blogspot.com/

March 13 2007 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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