back to article US to postpone analog TV death

The US Senate is poised to pass a bill delaying the country's transition to digital TV. The digital leap is currently scheduled for February 17, but the new bill would allow stations to continue analog broadcasting until June 12, according to high-ranking Senators chatting with Dow Jones Newswires. Senate Commerce Committee …

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Flame

Oh good grief!

Just shut the damn things off on Feb. 17 already! We've had over a year to prep for this. Adverts all over television (both cable and off-air), live tests...

Even though I have cable, I got my coupons and redeemed them months ago. I do have a couple of sets not hooked up to cable, and if there is an outage and cable is down, I'm all set in case of an emergency (weather, cable-cut, local or national disaster).

If you're too damn lazy to get off your ass from watching too much analog TV and get set up, then you don't deserve digital TV.

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Washington based idiocy

@ Bloodworth.

Amen to that rant. I agree though I missed the coupons. Not that I need them but who wants

to miss out on freebies, but I applied too late.

That said, it has been far more than a year to prep. I don't know how anyone out there in the

USA here could have missed the fact the digital switchover was going to occur from over 3 years

ago. I made my 'prep' over a year and a half ago by going with a digital tuner display so was ready

well in advance. Been enjoying digital football (with the proper ovoid ball not that silly round Euro ball) ever since.

Delaying the switch over is idiocy.

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mixed feelings

Letting people get completely cutoff from TV... would it inspire a golden age, or incite a riot? (My money is on the latter...)

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A bit slower here

So why does the UK have to wait until 2012 for it all to be completely rolled out?

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Across the pond

And here in the UK we are expected to pay for our own boxes when each region goes to digital TV...

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Just flip the switch, already!

I live in the US, and I have to agree: if you aren't prepared for the switchover, it's entirely your own fault at this point. The switchover has been advertised -- ad nauseum -- for the past few years, and the coupon program makes the total cost of the switchover only about $10 per television, since the tax payers are subsidizing $40 per converter box.

We have satellite TV (Dish Network) for our day-to-day TV-watching, but I still got the coupons and ordered two converter boxes, just so that we can use one of them on the little portable TV we keep around in case of major emergencies (and have another box as a spare). For the less-than-$20 it cost me (postage included), it would have been silly not to do so.

Anyone who still isn't ready for the switch deserves what they get -- nothing!

Just flip the switch, already!

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JB
Unhappy

Oh no, please...

Does that mean we have another 4 months of those bloody adverts with the woman in the funny pink coat or the 'cool cats' George Jetson wannabe ("Visit dtvanswersdotcom on your computation machine"); the live digital tests where your program is interrupted so you can stare at a screen saying 'digital ready' for a minute; and hearing the dread words "Are you ready for the digital switch?" and "My TV is DTV"? God help us all!

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Anonymous Coward

UK

Because of red-tape and the Daily Mail culture. They will likely still be complaining about the good old analog times in 50 years time.

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Go

Did We Really Expect Anything Different

Oh we have to protect those who can't think for themselves and get off they fat, lazy asses to do a little planning.

In fact, if we have to we'll bomb certain people to save them.

Frakk 'em. We act as though they'll die without TV for a week or two while they do their best impression of responsible adults and get what they need.

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone who's been watching analog TV...

...should be well aware of the switchover and what they need to do. It's not like it hasn't been publicized non-stop for a good while now. Another few months won't make much difference.

But then we're talking about people who in some cases don't want broadband because they think it's "too hard".

Clever bit of wording though. Of course the stations have invested in the digital kit and the switchover, unless they didn't feel like broadcasting after Feb 17th. So .gov gets to palm off the blame to the broadcasters - "well, they didn't have to switch off on 2/17, they chose to do it, we didn't make them". Well played, Senators! :-P

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Boffin

Who needs it?

The bit of the UK I live in switches over soon, and I was approached in the supermarket car park by a smart young lady with a clipboard, standing outside some sort of display and presentation trailer.

The conversation went roughly like this;

"Excuse me sir, could I ask if you have taken action to be ready for the digital switchover?"

"No, and I've no interest in doing so, thankyou."

"But don't you realise that after ........ you will lose your television service if you don't do something?"

"No, I won't lose a thing, I'll still have exactly the service I have now."

"But surely...."

"You miss the point - I won't have television service after ....., but then I don't have television now, so nothing will be lost."

"You don't have a TV?"

"No"

"Oh dear, there isn't an option on my form for that."

(Radiation warning - for the effect TV has on your brain)

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Anonymous Coward

oh noes

some people are getting cut off from the idiot box

FFS, it's not a matter of inability to get off fat arse, normal people cba with the telly: there's something called the internet, and it's better.

better yet, go and have a drink with the lads

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Good thing it's optional

All the broadcasters have been planning on the 2/17 switch, and I hope they stick to it. Won't mess up everyone's plans that way, and turning off the analog antennas saves them a bundle in electricity costs. And TV is not such an essential part of life that people can't go a few weeks without. It's their own fault, really, for having waited so long.

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Unhappy

waste of taxes

what a waste of taxes, another 4 months of wasted spending.

all those piggy consultants with their noses in the trough trying to stretch out this project for as much as they can get.

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Watching one channel while recording another - UK Freeview

Has anyone seen any mention of this anywhere ?

Not for me, I know how to do this, but for the great unwashed.

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Alien

They Live

It would have been a bit reckless of the government to allow 6.5 million people to go TV cold turkey. Won't people be able to see their lizard masters.

"We've got one who can SEE!"

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Just to clear up...

I'm not sure you can call this "waste of taxes." Waste, probably -- given the Bush & Obama's nanny state philosophies they'd probably be buying us 8 track convertors if it was the 70s -- but not taxes.

Ok, so $1.34 Billion was allocated to buy convertors.

However, FCC auctioned off part of the bandwidth being freed up by this switch last January for $19.5 Billion (remember that Google v. Verizon bidding? That's old analog TV bandwidth they were after)...and proper financial accounting I'd say would attribute the $1.34 B as part of the expenses for realizing the $19.5 B in revenue.

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Anonymous Coward

@J.R. Bloodsworth

"I do have a couple of sets not hooked up to cable, and if there is an outage and cable is down, I'm all set in case of an emergency (weather, cable-cut, local or national disaster)."

...Power outage?

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IT Angle

@ Anonymous Coward

"...Power outage?"

I have a generator and battery backups galore. :) Doesn't any true geek have those? ;)

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re: Oh good grief!

"Even though I have cable, I got my coupons and redeemed them months ago."

And you are part of the problem. Part of the digital-TV coupon problem, and part of the overall problem. When people like you, people who can afford to pay full price for the product, instead request and use the coupons (which are meant for people who CANNOT AFFORD IT OTHERWISE), you are wasting my money. Yes, I blame the government for allowing you to waste my money, but it is YOU who has the decision here, and you chose to have me buy it for you because you didn't want to pay for it yourself.

The reason there's a backlog and a shortage of coupons for people who legitimate need them is because people who don't need them requested them anyway. And while this topic is about the coupons for digital TV converters, it's the same for every government-subsidized program (food stamps, welfare, government-subsidized health care, government-subsidized housing, etc). Too many people abusing the system because they don't want to pay. You know what? I don't want to pay, either. But I do. And because so many people want to abuse the system (many of them better off than me financially), I end up paying for myself AND for them.

You want to see why the government is so involved in every aspect of our lives? Why our taxes are so high? Then look in the mirror. Because you're a direct cause of it.

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Gold badge

Not waste of taxes

As Matt says a few posts above, whether this is a waste or not, it's not a waste of *taxes*. The spectrum was auctioned off, and they're taking under 10% of the auction amount to feed into this box program.

Personally, I have cable TV, but I got a USB tuner stick and antenna to try out with my computer... analog reception in my area was nearly impossible for more than about 4 channels (without a large rooftop antenna.. which given the weather here would be destroyed by severe icing, hail, or wind within a year or two.) I've got a large directional indoor antenna (Hovermann) + amp now and am getting 18 channels. Nice! I had to hack a bit to get the driver installed since it's a very new stick, but once installed it's treated like a DVB-T device so mythtv worked right off, including pulling TV schedules straight from the stations (except the 1 station that doesn't transmit program info yet...)

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Silver badge

re: UK

What do you mean, my 405-line set won't work?

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Boffin

@A bit slower here

> So why does the UK have to wait until 2012 for it all to be completely rolled out?

We could have planned to "just flip the switch". It might even have worked technically (i.e. after the "big bang" rollout the signal may be good); it would certainly have been a lot easier technically to plan. ("Turn off analogue and old-low-power-digital then turn on new-high-power-digital" is easy; any other transition plan is really hard because you have to avoid interference between old and new). But from a pragmatic point of view it would cause serious practical difficulties:

1) The plan is that in each region, BBC2 analogue gets switched off first, and a limited digital service gets switched on*. Then 2 weeks later the rest of the analogue channels are switched off, and the rest of the digital channels are switched on. This gives people 2 weeks to check that their digital reception works, and there's an easy "can you watch BBC2" test. It also means that failure to be ready isn't a big deal (you just lose BBC2), people can go out and panic-buy during those 2 weeks. Additionally, because digital is available they can and do put really annoying permanently-visible scrolling warnings along the bottom of every analogue channel saying "this is an analogue channel and will stop working in a few days; call this number for help!". This all gets lost if you go for "big national instant switch"; people just think "my TV stopped working" and don't know what to do about it.

2) One of the taxpayer-funded organisations has a digital TV helpdesk that you can call for help; there are also other support efforts that are run e.g. by Age Concern. With a "big bang" you'd have to predict demand, train a _lot_ of staff, and most of the calls would be in a 2-week period. With a region-by-region approach the peak is smoothed out a lot - so you need less staff; they will be more experienced (cos they've probably done a few regions by the time they get to you); there will be the right number of staff on (because the managers learnt from the first few regions); etc.

3) How many digital receivers should the shops have in stock for the mad panic-buying rush around the switchover date? Before Whitehaven, no-one knew. As regions gradually switch then the retailers will get an even better idea. (Whitehaven was the 1st region to switch).

4) There's a limited number of staff for all this. Support people who go around and help old folks; Sky installers (some people do switch to Sky); Aerial installers (some people do need a new aerial (or aerial cable) for Freeview); call-center staff; transmitter technicians; people to troubleshoot the transmitters if it all goes titsup; etc. Doing region-by-region is a lot easier.

5) If it does all go wrong; the damage is contained to a single region. Also, lessons learned from the first few can be used to improve the switch of later regions. (Incidentally, I'm told the reason Whitehaven was first and London will be last is for technical spectrum allocation reasons. Apparently it's nothing to do with population size at all, that just happens to be a happy coincidence).

(Disclaimer: I work for a company that makes Freeview boxes; but I speak for myself and any errors are mine)

(* Yes there are plenty of people who can't get Freeview but have a perfectly good analogue service; switching off analogue without turning on new higher-powered Freeview transmitters would annoy a _lot_ of people. And you can't up the power for Freeview without annoying lots of people with interference, unless you turn off an analogue channel (such as BBC2) and reuse that frequency for digital).

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analog vs. digital

I wonder will they push the date to June?

I have a very old TV. I dont watch that much TV though.

I saw a converter box at radio shack, and I guess you can download a coupon on the net.

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Unhappy

I will miss analog TV

Its crap reception, worse than anyone in the UK could imagine, but its free. Digital transmission is not free....two reasons for the changeover.....

-- Spectrum released by the switchover has already been sold to companies like AT&T. They need this for next generation cell service which, if current 3G is anything to go by, looks remarkably like TV broadcasting.

-- Digital coding had DRM capability built-in although the first steps -- the so-called broadcast flag -- hasn't got off the ground yet.

So let's trade 'free' for 'corporate'....yeah.....that's progress for you.....

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@Peyton

<<Letting people get completely cutoff from TV... would it inspire a golden age, or incite a riot? (My money is on the latter...)>>

More likely outcomes - Merkans will get thinner, and there'll be a baby boom. Saves money on healthcare, and fixes the pension deficit. Later.

Cunning plan, what?

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Gold badge
Happy

@J.R. Bloodsworth

Game, Set and Match to you then and well played if I may say so.

I believe the prize for that one is a hat with a propellor on the top.

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Thumb Up

TV Title

>"You don't have a TV?"

"No"

"Oh dear, there isn't an option on my form for that."<

Laugh out loud. I moved to West Yorkshire from London, and whilst I like the towny feel and no big brother feel, I miss the fibre optics broadband and 3am pizza n beer delivery service.

Digital switchover up here is 2012 and analogue (rooftop aerial), doesn't pick up channel 5 so I sacked TV, used my 32in flatscreen as my main pc monitor and saved on the license fee, tho' they've used a tree up in accusing me of watching tv, even after an invite from me to come round and check.

I really don't miss the idiot box.

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Dead Vulture

"Analog"?!

Really?! "Analog"? Is this the kind of spelling I should expect from TheRegister.co.uk?

Cancelling my subscription, etc, etc...

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Stop

In case of emergencies?

Why do you need a TV for emergencies? I'd be more likely to go for the radio for emergency info tbh... it's more likely to still be working after the bomb has dropped. All this crazy talk of generators and battery backups... When there's a hurricane blowing, what could I get from 200W mains-powered TV that I couldn't from a hand-held, battery powered LW receiver (that's assuming my digital tv wasn't spazzing out with broken sound because it was raining a bit)?

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"you don't deserve digital TV"

That isn't the problem. Advertisers don't want to lose eyeballs because of the switch over.

Do you really think that the government want to ensure people get their TV related entertainment with no break???

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Thumb Down

The Hell with Them!

Switch 'em off now, that'll teach the lazy to get moving when they should have!

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Coat

@ Dean Collins

There's a saying in government: "Never kill the job!" More consultants get to keep their snouts in the public trough longer, the pols in DC get to point fingers. It's a win/win! Mine's the one with the coupons stuffed in the pockets.

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