Apparently, the lack of an analog signal means that somewhere out there, an alien race that mankind has yet to discover will not know the winner of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
An astronomer from the SETI Institute has speculated that undiscovered alien races or other forms of intelligent life in the universe won't be able to watch Earth's television because of the switchover.
For those of you who have already made the transition, you'll notice that there are some extra channels on your TV, maybe with names like 2.1 or 2-1 or 12.13 or 13-12 or whatever. Some channels have taken advantage of the extra bandwidth DTV allows by broadcasting extra channels of specialized content. But are they worth watching? At this point, not really.
The Obama transition team is asking Congress to extend the deadline because the way the transition has been handled hasn't been the smoothest: there's been a problem with the coupons that the government is giving out so people can get a converter box, the education on the new technology has been inadequate, and the government doesn't have the funds to make the current date a reality. Consumers unions are also asking for the date to be extended.
My sister asked me if I was ready for the digital transition, and I told her that I've been ready for years. Then I met someone last week who says she still has a small portable TV with rabbit ears. Are you ready for the change?
But, you're not completely out of luck. As of yesterday, the US government is giving away 33.5 million $40 coupons to help people buy converter boxes (expected to cost between $50 and $70) so they continue to suck on the sweet electronic teat without interruption. No, don't call your doctor or wash your eyes out with bleach, you read that right: the US government is spending $1.5 billion to help people watch TV.
If you're still holding on to that analog television, waiting for a great deal before making the jump, I can't really blame you. The longer you wait, the better deal you're going to get. You'll be able to point and laugh when you hear what I paid for my lowly little 37" LCD, while the entire wall of your living room is lit up in shining HD light that looks like you're getting cable broadcast straight out of Heaven, on some contraption you paid 12 bucks for at Walmart.
Now comes word from our old pal Kevin Martin at the FCC that you'll be able to wait, at least, until 2012 before you have to step into the future. Currently, the digital transition is supposed to happen in February 2009, although we've heard that before, so I'm not holding my breath. Even if it does finally happen though, it's not the end of analog TV. The FCC voted 5-0, deciding that cable operators must continue to make all local broadcasts available to their users, even those with analog televisions, until 2012. It's up to them whether they do it by continuing to carry an analog signal, or by using set top boxes. And if that still isn't enough notice or warning, write the FCC (they like that), because the whole thing will be revisited as the 2012 deadline approaches.
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