As expected, the digital TV changeover date is slipping

If you're still using a TV set equipped with rabbit ears after February 17, you will not have anything to watch. That's because Congress mandated that by that date, all over the air TV stations must have converted to a digital signal in order to free up all that space on the bandwidth dial for other purposes.

However, even though the government and cable companies have been running commercials informing consumers of the changeover and that they will no longer be able to access a TV signal unless they get cable TV or buy (or receive a voucher for) a converter box that will allow them to access TV signals, it appears that literally millions of Americans are resisting.

This has caused the incoming Obama administration along with the Consumers Union to look for some slippage in that February 17 date from Congress in order to prevent a dislocation of enormous proportions:

In a letter to Rep. Markey, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committe, and others, the CU requested that Congress consider a delay "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program created to offset the cost of this transition." 

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration this week announced that it had hit the funding ceiling for its program to distribute government subsidies for DTV-to-analog converter boxes and that new applications would have to be put on a waiting list unless the cap were raised or the Antideficiency Act (ADA) rule preventing it from spending money it expected to be freed up by expired coupons was waived.

“Congressman Markey is working on an exemption to the ADA to deal with the immediate waiting list issue," said Daniel Reilly, a spokesman for Markey. "But with the date looming, moving the date back certainly warrants further discussion and may be a wise choice.”

According to several sources, the Obama FCC transition team has been "very busy" on the issue and has been floating the possibility of moving the date.  The transition press office had not returned an e-mail request for comment at press time.

Those vouchers are for people who can't afford the cash for the converter boxes. Does it surprise anyone that they've already plowed through all the monies earmarked for the coupons and are now putting people on a waiting list?

They are talking about a delay of about 4 months but even that might be optimistic. The government is going to have to realize that until that signal is turned off, many tens of thousands of people - probably many more - will refuse the changeover due to procrastination, fear, ignorance, or just plain ennui.

Of course, that won't stop the criticism when it does happen. It won't be the citizen's fault that they ignored the government for 2 years it will be the government's fault for not seeking out the dummies and forcing them to get a converter box.

This is a guaranteed mess no matter what they do. They should probably keep the date for the changeover and let the chips fall where they may. Eventually, they are going to have to face the fact that only when the TV signal is gone will most people clamor for their coupon or spend the $40 for a converter box.



If you're still using a TV set equipped with rabbit ears after February 17, you will not have anything to watch. That's because Congress mandated that by that date, all over the air TV stations must have converted to a digital signal in order to free up all that space on the bandwidth dial for other purposes.

However, even though the government and cable companies have been running commercials informing consumers of the changeover and that they will no longer be able to access a TV signal unless they get cable TV or buy (or receive a voucher for) a converter box that will allow them to access TV signals, it appears that literally millions of Americans are resisting.

This has caused the incoming Obama administration along with the Consumers Union to look for some slippage in that February 17 date from Congress in order to prevent a dislocation of enormous proportions:

In a letter to Rep. Markey, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committe, and others, the CU requested that Congress consider a delay "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program created to offset the cost of this transition." 

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration this week announced that it had hit the funding ceiling for its program to distribute government subsidies for DTV-to-analog converter boxes and that new applications would have to be put on a waiting list unless the cap were raised or the Antideficiency Act (ADA) rule preventing it from spending money it expected to be freed up by expired coupons was waived.

“Congressman Markey is working on an exemption to the ADA to deal with the immediate waiting list issue," said Daniel Reilly, a spokesman for Markey. "But with the date looming, moving the date back certainly warrants further discussion and may be a wise choice.”

According to several sources, the Obama FCC transition team has been "very busy" on the issue and has been floating the possibility of moving the date.  The transition press office had not returned an e-mail request for comment at press time.

Those vouchers are for people who can't afford the cash for the converter boxes. Does it surprise anyone that they've already plowed through all the monies earmarked for the coupons and are now putting people on a waiting list?

They are talking about a delay of about 4 months but even that might be optimistic. The government is going to have to realize that until that signal is turned off, many tens of thousands of people - probably many more - will refuse the changeover due to procrastination, fear, ignorance, or just plain ennui.

Of course, that won't stop the criticism when it does happen. It won't be the citizen's fault that they ignored the government for 2 years it will be the government's fault for not seeking out the dummies and forcing them to get a converter box.

This is a guaranteed mess no matter what they do. They should probably keep the date for the changeover and let the chips fall where they may. Eventually, they are going to have to face the fact that only when the TV signal is gone will most people clamor for their coupon or spend the $40 for a converter box.