Feb 17th - goodbye to analogue TV in the USA

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Feb 17th - goodbye to analogue TV in the USA

Millions of people in the US will wake up on Feb 18 to find their TV doesn't work any more, and that they have to pay between $20 and $40 to get a decoder to make it work again. There will be heaps of irate people around, as a decoder does not guarantee that your get a signal, as it only works with strong signals, and many of those small portable TV's that people have won't work at all because you can't put the decoder between the aerial and the system.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission sponsored a Nascar race car as part of its effort to inform Americans that on Feb. 18, television signals transmitted over the air will be transmitted solely in digital format. Old TV sets will no longer work.

And how is the digital TV transition going? According to critics, about as well, despite a major marketing campaign that includes nightly ads on TV.

According to surveys conducted by the Consumers Union, a consumer advocacy group that also publishes Consumer Reports magazine, while 90 percent of the nation is aware of the transition, 25 percent mistakenly believe that one must subscribe to cable or satellite after February, and 41 percent think that every TV in a house must have a new converter box, even those that are already connected to cable or satellite.

A number of people involved in the switch to digital think the Feb. 17 deadline will leave millions of Americans bewildered when their TVs stop working.

More than 20 million households receive their TV shows using only an antenna, while about 15 million households have at least one TV not connected to cable or satellite, according to the National Association of Broadcasters.

Anyone who gets their TV signal over the air whether through a rabbit ear antenna on top of the set or an antenna on the roof will need to buy a digital-to-analog converter box in order to continue getting a signal. Some people may also need a new antenna.

A person can also subscribe to a cable or satellite service or buy a new digital TV. The fear is that those Americans least likely to understand or afford the transition such as the poor, the elderly and the non-English speaking will be most affected.

To help reduce the expense of acquiring the converter boxes, which cost about $50 for basic models, consumers can get two government rebate vouchers worth $40 a box. (Available at http://www.dtv2009.gov or 888-388-2009.)

About 40 million coupons have been requested, but to date 16 million have been redeemed, compared with an estimated 35 million televisions that will lose a signal. Adding to the problem: people who obtained coupons early this year, but never redeemed them, have discovered that they expire after 90 days. They are not allowed to reapply for vouchers (though they could use someone else's coupon).

Those who have their converter boxes have discovered the "cliff effect." If the over-the-air signal is not strong, the viewer does not receive a fuzzy picture as he might get with a weak analog signal; the viewer gets no picture at all because digital reception is all or nothing. In addition, depending on area, the rabbit ears intended to receive only VHF broadcast channels may need to be replaced with new digital units.

Most portable TVs, the type used by sports fans at the beach and ballpark, will not work after the digital transition.

And on the day of the conversion, consumers will also need to direct their converter box to scan for channels. (If they want an up-to-date electronic program guide, they will need to have the box rescan the channels regularly.)

To make matters worse, the transition date occurs when the weather in most of the country is at its coldest and iciest.

"We're asking the elderly to go out in the snow to buy a converter box?" Kelsey said. "All we need on Feb. 18 is to have someone slip off their roof and get injured as they try to set up a new digital antenna."
By netchicken: posted on 3-2-2009

WASHINGTON (AP) Congress appears poised to grant a four-month delay in the upcoming shutdown of analog TV broadcasts, though broadcasters still will be allowed to go all-digital earlier if they want.

The House is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday on a bill that would shift the analog TV shutdown to June 12 from Feb. 17. The Senate unanimously approved the idea Monday night, in a victory for the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers who argue that too many Americans wouldn't be ready to get digital broadcasts by Feb. 17.

By Thomas_Crowne: posted on 4-2-2009

Well thats good news :)
Still when it does hit I suspect there will be many people unready for the change. But change has to happen I suppose.
By netchicken: posted on 4-2-2009

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