The Great TV Broadcast Screw Up Is Coming - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-19-2007, 05:31 PM
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Exclamation The Great TV Broadcast Screw Up Is Coming

In 1947 the first regular TV broadcasts began using the same basic analog broadcast TV standards that we use today. However our country is moving to an all digital TV system and very soon, February 17, 2009, the older analog TV system will be turned off forever. Without question, the newer digital TV broadcast system is better in both resolution and image quality, BUT there is a dark side to this change, that seems to be ignored.

IF you watch your TV programs through a Cable System or Satellite System, you need not worry. Your Cable or Satellite Service Provider will make sure you receive a signal in a form your TV can handle. Roughly 85% of the country has Cable or Satellite.

As for the 15% of the country that only uses a TV antenna, unless the TV (or VCR) has the digital tuner or it has a digital tuner box, it will cease to function on February 18, 2009. Now before someone says, "Well, buy a new HDTV or just subscribe to Cable or Satellite!", remember many of these people, roughly 12% of our population, are living at or below the poverty line and can't afford these luxuries. No one knows the exact number, but it's around 15 million homes that will see their TVs go blank and because of their limited incomes, can't do much about it.

To help offset this outcome, the federal government is setting up a digital to analog converter box program. Poor people will be able to use a coupon that pays for $40 of the cost of the converter. By 2008, the converters are expected to cost around $50 to $100. The exact cost is still unknown.

Has our federal government set aside enough money to inform the public about this program. Well, in early 2006, when Congress set the date for analog shutoff, they set aside 5 million dollars to help educate the public!!! Given that we have over 300 million people in the US, that comes to less than 1.67 cents per person. Not to worry, if they spent the money to inform the lowest incomes, say 12% of the country, that would come to almost 14 cents per person! Still not enough..

You might think that something this important would be covered by our TV News Media, but apparently reporting on J-Lo's love life is more important than letting 15 million households living at or below the poverty level know what is going to happen. It's not that they never report on it, it's just that their reports are so rare, most never see it.

Can we expect the TV manufacturers or stores to inform the public? The answer is "NO" and "NO". If you want to purchase a new HDTV, they will be happy to sell you something, but ask about a box that reads the digital signal and down-converts it to the older format and they'll tell you it doesn't exist. I went to 6 different stores pretending to be a dumb consumer and ALL of the stores told me that such a box (HDTV tuner) does not exist and the only way is to buy a new HDTV. Nice to know that I have a converter box in my living room that doesn't exist.


What about out government's plan if viewers see their TVs fail to work on February 18, 2009? Well, there is NO Plan "B"!

Quote:
Asked if the White House had some kind of auxiliary plan to avert a massive communications cutoff, Kneuer replied that his job was to implement the new law.

"There is nothing in the statute that directs me to do anything except operationalize this program as it exists in the statute," he added. "That's what I'm focused on. That's what the whole team is focused on."

I find it amazing that as many as 1 out of 4 people even know about the analog TV shutoff and far less know all the details. Chances that those who do, have a good income and an internet connection. As for the poor families who make up most of the 15% that use an antenna, they are about to get screwed in roughly 2 years and 1 month from now and almost no one seems to notice or care.



Bob
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Old 01-19-2007, 06:31 PM
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All they will have to do is run an ad during Jerry Springer or American Idol and that should cover the remaining 15%

Interesting point nonetheless.
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:51 PM
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As I understand it the original date was to be 3 weeks ago (Dec 31 2006) This date has been changed (obviously) many times and is now what you say.

It is a huge work in progress and I wouldn't get too worried about it. Not sure where you got your numbers but I have seen reports that say "ten's of thousands" of people not the 15 million you quote. Think about it a bit, everyone in the country below the poverty level doesn't use rabbit ears. Also there are some who can afford whatever they want but DO use rabbit ears.

If there are people watching TV you can be assured the advertisers will not let that demographic just disappear.
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:02 AM
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This is a great thread. I love discussing broadcast TV. I use it and with the growth of the digital broadcast I am constantly surprised how many people are unaware of it's reach. I especially enjoy it everytime a friend comes over and finds out that the crystal clear picture on my TV (sometimes better than what they get with cable) is broadcast.

I'm not to worried about the eventual switch. In fact, I hope it reminds the country about broadcast TV. I imagine there are millions of people out there who think that they need cable to get reception whether they can afford it or not. How many people started paying for cable because they could not "get a signal" anymore. I wonder how many would switch back if they new the high quality signal they could get for free.

As for those below the poverty line. I imagine there are less of them worried about having to buy a converter than there of them paying hundreds of dollars per year (at least) because they do not know a $100 tuner or converter could get them a quality signal without having to pay $$$ every month.

lyonsden5 mentioned advertisers would not want to lose the broadcast audience. Conversly, I wonder just how worried cable and digital services are of the public becoming re-familiarized with broadcast TV because of the new high quality signal. Have you heard a cable commercial lately. They make it sound like their provider is the only way to get true HDTV.

By the way, I stopped in to a 6th Ave electronics tonight looking for a tuner to use on my analog TV. I saw one for $140 at circuit city (after a coupon) but figured I'd see what else is out there as the Samsung I was looking at does not easily work with older connections. Whenever I have this conversation with a employee at one of these stores they look at me like I'm from outer space (well not all, but most. a few are actually surprisingly informed.) Anyway, in this particular instance, the employee asked if I needed help. I told him what I was looking for and he told me stores don't really carry them anymore (I figure he doesn't know about the rush of people who will need some sort of digital solution in the next 2 years.) After I told him I had just been looking at one at Circuit City, he told me that broadcast TV doesn't look as good as cable or sat. I asked him to tell me why. He could not.
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Old 01-20-2007, 01:34 AM
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This date has been pushed back more than once. It will probably be pushed back again. The broadcasters do not want to or can't afford to replace all of the equipment in order to comply with this changeover. The bigger ones can but will claim that they can't to push the date back further in order for the change over to be cheaper. The smaller stations just flat can't do it. They also dont want to give back the bandwidth. The government just wants the spectrum back so they can sell it to cell phone companys and make a boatload of money. I wonder if we will get a taste ? I highly doubt it. The cell phone companys will roll out 4G services like live video calls and charge us up the wazuu for it while laughing all the way to the bank. I also highly doubt that the government will lower our taxes to make up for the windfall that our public airwaves has brought them.
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Old 01-20-2007, 01:55 AM
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I agree with the mandatory digital changeover, as it is necessary to keep society up to speed with emerging technologies. However, one thing that I think is being overlooked is the impact on disaster preparedness.

Many all-in-one home emergency kits that are sold today have TVs built into them, so that the public will be able to receive a TV broadcast in the case of a disaster (assuming the power is out). But a vast majority of these kits/units being sold are analog. Once 2009 rolls around, radio will be the only way to receive info in the case of an emergency. While I'm sure manufactures will start making portable units that can read digital signals by the time this date passes, people who are unaware that there are no analog signals being broadcast (or that their unit can't read digital) will not realize they have to buy a new TV, and will be pretty much be out of luck during a crisis. I think the government has to get their act together and start advertising this more. Also, all analog-only hardware that is sold today should be including a disclaimer.
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:05 PM
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DTV Coupon Program:

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frn...m_07202006.htm
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Old 01-20-2007, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyonsden5 View Post
As I understand it the original date was to be 3 weeks ago (Dec 31 2006) This date has been changed (obviously) many times and is now what you say.

It is a huge work in progress and I wouldn't get too worried about it. Not sure where you got your numbers but I have seen reports that say "ten's of thousands" of people not the 15 million you quote. Think about it a bit, everyone in the country below the poverty level doesn't use rabbit ears. Also there are some who can afford whatever they want but DO use rabbit ears.

If there are people watching TV you can be assured the advertisers will not let that demographic just disappear.

How did I come up with the number of 15 million households.
Please go to the following link and look up the following items:

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

Housing units, 2005 124,521,886

Persons below poverty, percent, 2003 12.5%

Now calculate: 124,521,886 homes x 12.5% below poverty = 15,565,236 homes below poverty level.

This is where I got the 15 million figure. Notice that I did not round up the number.


Taking into account not every home has a TV, a good point; please look at this link:

http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/...es/001702.html

The percentage of households with at least one TV in 2001. 98.2%


Let's assume that ALL the 1.8% of the households in the US without a TV are all below the poverty line.

124,521,886 homes (Total USA) x 1.8% = 2,490,438 homes without TV

15,565,236 homes below poverty level - 2,490,438 homes without TV = 13,074,798 homes below poverty level WITH a TV

So I can safely say that at least 13 million homes below poverty level have at least 1 TV. Given their income level, it's highly unlikely that they were able to spend a lot of money to get an HDTV or digital TV. So chances are VERY good that most have an analog TV.

Quote:
I have seen reports that say "ten's of thousands" of people not the 15 million you quote.
I'd be interested in seeing where you get the ten's of thousands of number from. Do you have a link?


There have only been two official dates given, December 1, 2006 and February 17, 2009. The FCC has spoken of other possible dates, but they were only throwing out numbers to test the reaction.

Quote:
Did you know that February 17, 2009, is the date set by Congress for all TV stations to stop analog broadcasts? After that date, consumers with analog sets will need to obtain a separate converter box to watch over-the-air TV. Beginning in 2008, consumers with analog TVs receiving over-the-air broadcasts will be able to obtain two coupons worth $40 each towards the purchase of converter boxes from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA will publish rules on how to obtain and use the coupons sometime in 2006. For more information on the digital transition, check out our Web site at www.dtv.gov
Source:
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/contacts/head...Transition.pdf


The date February 17, 2009 was signed into law and while it could be changed, there is nothing I can find that shows it is going to be changed.


It's my understanding that the big TV stations in the major cities must shut off their analog signal in February 2009. The LPTV (Low Power TV) stations and repeaters to lessor populated areas are being given a little more time.


Bob

Last edited by BobDiaz; 01-20-2007 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 01-20-2007, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat H View Post
I agree with the mandatory digital changeover, as it is necessary to keep society up to speed with emerging technologies. However, one thing that I think is being overlooked is the impact on disaster preparedness.

Many all-in-one home emergency kits that are sold today have TVs built into them, so that the public will be able to receive a TV broadcast in the case of a disaster (assuming the power is out). But a vast majority of these kits/units being sold are analog. Once 2009 rolls around, radio will be the only way to receive info in the case of an emergency. While I'm sure manufactures will start making portable units that can read digital signals by the time this date passes, people who are unaware that there are no analog signals being broadcast (or that their unit can't read digital) will not realize they have to buy a new TV, and will be pretty much be out of luck during a crisis. I think the government has to get their act together and start advertising this more. Also, all analog-only hardware that is sold today should be including a disclaimer.

I'm not against the change over to digital. The only issue I have is how important information is not being given to the public.

As of March 2006, every TV set, 25" and larger, being made for the US, must have a digital tuner. Stores may still have older stock on TVs made before Marcg 2006, but most of the newer sets have the digital tuner.

Come March 2007, ALL TVs being made must have the digital tuner. It will take a while for the older stock to clear out of the stores.

Once the analog signals are turned off, emergency services, like Police & Fire, receive 24 MHz (4 TV Channels worth or roughly 1,600 narrow band FM voice channels). That's the good news. The bad news is that your statement about the low cost emergency analog TVs not working is correct.


Bob
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Old 01-20-2007, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
So I can safely say that at least 13 million homes below poverty level have at least 1 TV. Given their income level, it's highly unlikely that they were able to spend a lot of money to get an HDTV or digital TV. So chances are VERY good that most have an analog TV.
You are still assuming that all of these people do not have cable. An assumption I would not be comfortable with. It is "highly unlikely" people in the same income level wear $100.00 shoes or have nice jewelry, video games, cell phones, iPods, etc. but many do.

I wasn't trying to start an argument, just pointing out there are a lot of unknowns and there have already been changes to the dates. Also I have complete faith that since there is a need, someone will step up to fill that need. They always do. Capitalism at it's best. I love it.

IMO this will be a minor bump for the majority of those who currently only have analog TV, not the crisis you seem to think it will be. Again, just my opinion.

Tell you what, I'll meet you back here in 2 years and we'll find out who was right
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