Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Quit channel-surfing the analog airwaves

Posted in Observations, TV & Film by Jacob Zinn on June 11, 2009

There isn’t much time left before U.S. TV stations scrap their analog signals.

Nielsen is estimating that 2.8 million American households aren’t ready to convert to digital–which happens tomorrow.

Personally, I didn’t think that many people still used rabbits ears to watch TV.

A government press release states that 641 stations will no longer offer analog broadcasting, meaning viewers who receive channels through antennae must purchase a digital converter box in order to still see these channels.

If this is news to you, you obviously don’t watch much TV. The FCC has run commercials for the switch to DTV since 2007, advertising $40 coupons to cover some of the cost of the boxes, priced from $40 to $80.

The switch was originally scheduled to happen on February 17, but the U.S. government postponed it to June 12 because so many people were behind.

And yet so many people are still behind.

In January, there was a shortage of coupons for the converter boxes, but that has since been solved, and still millions of couch potatoes people haven’t gone out and gotten theirs.

So far, only a handful of countries in Europe have completed the switch. Much of the rest of the world is either in the transitional phase or haven’t begun.

But Luxembourg finished the switch first on September 1, 2006.

So why is it taking the U.S so long? Yes, Luxembourg’s estimated population in 2009 was only 493,500 people, but they’re almost three years ahead of the States, and the U.S. had significant warning–about 20 months notice.

Besides, why would anyone want to keep the antennae on top of their TV? You don’t see a 50-inch LCD set with bent metal rods coming out the top.

From my standpoint, if you haven’t made the switch, you’re too late. Come tomorrow, millions of people will complain to their local news stations about their lack of preparation and and get their faces on TV.

Too bad they won’t be able to watch.

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