Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Digital Delay?

I have a few minutes before my financial advisor calls with an update on my shrinking 401K.  So, here are a few thoughts on what seems as though will be a delay in the transition from analog television to digital.

This plan has been in the works for years - years, people.  My television station and every other station around the country have been telling viewers about it for years - years, people.  In our case, we've had information on our Web site for quite a while, we've done many stories about the transition and who will be affected, we've taken part in two tests required by the FCC, and, also following FCC guidelines, we run a crawl at the bottom of the screen at least twice a day to let people know that change is coming on February 17th.  Except that, now, maybe it's not.

Congress is currently in the process of delaying the switch by four months, to June 17th or thereabouts.  President Obama supports the delay, so I'm sure it's gonna happen.  My question is, "Why?"

The argument for delay basically seems to be that 6.5 million households are not ready.  How is that my problem?  How is that my televison station's problem?  Again, it's not like people didn't know this was coming.  As one of my friends put it, anyone who cares about TV will have already done what they need to do to continue watching television.  The options are:  hook up to cable or satellite, buy a TV that is digital ready, or get one of those convertor boxes.  Of course, the government coupon program is now out of money.  But, if you really cared, you either would have signed up for a coupon before the program ran out of money, or just gone ahead and bought a box without the coupon.  I repeat, it's not like people didn't know this switch was happening on February 17.

Whatever.  What we're now left with is a delay that will cost local television stations thousands of dollars that they probably didn't plan to spend.  With TV stations already cutting costs to the bone, this delay could lead to even more job losses.  Hopefully not, but it could.

Thanks, Congress.   

*******UPDATE:  Thanks, Congress!  Shortly after I posted the above entry, the House, in what may be the smartest thing it's done in years, actually rejected the plan to delay the conversion.  So, unless something else happens soon, it's bye-bye analog on February 17.  I'm ready.  Are you?******

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