Tuesday, August 7, 2007

TV's digital switchover has a downside

February 18, 2009, no this is not a blog predicting the future. It is however a special date. On that date, TVs that are not connected to a cable line, that get their broadcast signals from the free, "over the air" signal, most likely from a "rabbit ear" type antennae, will receive static instead.

That is the date the FCC has set for broadcasters to turn off their over the air, "analog", signal to deliver only a digital signal. And those homes with TVs not capable of receiving a digital signal or not connected to a cable service will have no access to broadcast TV. Why is this being done. The advent of High Def TVs, the proliferation of digital TV through cable, phone, or satellite, and the belief that most homes are already digital customers. The belief that most consumers will be unaffected. Still, a home might be signed up but not every TV may be hooked up. And for those homes that still don't want to sign up for service will now have to at least purchase a digital tuner and hope it can connect to their TV set. The population most likely to be affected, the poor and the elderly, and that is who needs to be protected. So why is it being done. The FCC will take back that spectrum of signal and resell it for other uses. Profit is always a motive.

For those people that only watch TV through a cable line, this date will pass unnoticed. But to those who have been accustomed to free TV, the date will creep up to quickly. Yes the world continues to change and progress is inevitable. Education is absolutely needed to clarify what this change means in layman terms. Profit and wireless advances will certainly result from this change; but at the same time, some of those same profits should be redirected to those groups most hard hit, to ensure a happier transition.