Broadcasting to the Converted

Friday, February 29, 2008


If you still get your TV from over-the-air analog broadcast, you'll receive only static in less than a year - that is, unless you get a new TV or a converter box. The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro says there's widespread confusion even though it's not that complicated.

Click here to get a coupon for $40 off a digital converter.

Comments [7]

William Martin from Saint Louis, MO

Everyone ignores the details of the negatives of complete conversion from analog to digital. There's nothing wrong with what we had in place before the February changeover -- a mix of traditional analog and higher-quality digital signals available to everyone with antenna-reception capability. If you wanted the digital picture quality and the supplemental subchannels, you could buy a new TV or a converter box; if you did not, or could not afford it, or were in a location where only analog reached you, you could stay with what you had. All well and good. But the key factor being ignored in eliminating analog entirely is that digital does NOT work in weather emergencies, and one of the primary justifications for giving stations a broadcast license was the public-service aspect of emergency notification. With analog, people in hurricane situations or under tornado danger could tune in their local analog TV broadcast on a cheap portable battery-operated TV or the TV audio on a radio that covered that band and receive weather warnings and information. That is NOT possible with digital! Not only are there no such cheap portable TVs and TV-audio radios under digital, but the actual transmissions fail. Digital requires a stable reception situation, with no movement between the transmitting antenna and the receiving one. Not only does that preclude using a portable receiver while physically moving, the storm-caused vibration of the transmitting antenna ruins reception for everyone! Note that there were reports that during the recent Oklahoma City tornado, all the digital TV signals were lost, while the analog ones still made it through. Some time ago, I understand that the state of Florida made an official request to stop the elimination of analog exactly because of the loss of hurricane-warning capabilities. These details are widely discussed among technical people but are never mentioned in the mainstream media.

Mar. 02 2009 11:39 AM
Jerry from Hamilton, NJ

I don't know if having a roof-top antenna will bring in the digital signals any better, but I know that using my set-top rabbit ears through the digital converter box more often than not, I can't watch a program because the signal strength must be consistently very strong. Even a slight drop of signal strength makes the picture and sound drop out, stall, or pixilate to the point that the program is unwatchable. Anyone who relies on rabbit ears will be very disappointed when the analog signals are no longer broadcast.

Oct. 19 2008 11:53 AM
Tom Haydon from Portland, OR

A good story, but unfortunately the set-up only added to the "widespread confusion," since it contained at least two significant errors:

"On February 17th, 2009, now less than a year away, all analog television broadcasts [1] in the United States will stop. That means all TVs not receiving cable or satellite signals, all TVs that rely on old-fashioned set-top or rooftop antennas [2] suddenly will show nothing but static – you know, like this."

1)*Not* all, only full-power. Low-power stations and translators can and will continue in analog for at least several more years. Many rural viewers will still be all-or-mostly analog on Feb 18.
2)*Not* all, digital TVs (with ATSC tuners) using antennas will be just fine. They'll work the same on the 18th as they did on the 17th.

The date is probably more precisely stated as Feb *18* - the rules change at midnight between Feb 17/18. Feb 17 will be just like Feb 16; Feb 18 will not.

It's true that for most individual viewers the digital switch is not that complicated, but the number of "it depends" situations may be large. The amount of misinformation and over-simplified explanations in the media is also substantial.

I'm involved in the DTV switch campaign at Oregon Public Broadcasting - there's probably another story for OTM about the job the media is doing in educating the country about this completely unprecedented event - an existing in-home technology made obsolete overnight by an external change.

Mar. 12 2008 05:27 PM
Celeste Bartin from St. Louis, Mo. 63123

Called 1-2-08 for converter box coupons. Have not received yet..when are they coming?

Mar. 05 2008 10:54 PM
Jack from Chicago

I've heard one reason to get the coupon for the converter now is that the program has limited funding. Coupons have to be used within 90 days of issuance.

Mar. 03 2008 12:43 PM
James Lewis from Baltimore, Maryland

Okay, so I’ll admit I may be somewhat of an unusual ludite. I have three CRT televisions! My NEWEST was manufactured in 1998, the middle one in 1985 and, the oldest (which is the only one that has ever been serviced) was purchased in the late 1970’s!! [BTW – all three are Sony & when I took the oldest to an Asian repair gentleman he all but bowed down and prayed to it.]

All three have some sort of “rabbit ears” as their receptors – I don’t believe in over priced cable feeds that
don’t even provide stereo broadcasts.

What am I expected to do? I feel that I am being forced unfairly into purchasing something that I have never needed. Not only that, but the Government [who forced me into this dilemma] only provides for two conversion boxes! Totally UNFAIR!

‘Just thought you’d want to know

Mar. 02 2008 01:47 PM
C Spab from Philly, Pa

Over the air DTV is a HUGE step forward. I receive digital over the air and get about 15 or so HD TV channels that look better then most of my friends spending $50 bucks a month on Comcast.

Thats right- you just don't realize how pasty Conan is until you see him in 1080i.

However- you do need to get an outdoor antenna for like $80 at radio shack though...

Mar. 02 2008 11:33 AM

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