Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time to dump analog and jump on the digital train (sorry poor and rural people)

The conversion from analog TV to digital is big news for the whole nation. If you haven't heard the story, it sums up like this: Four years ago, congress decided to convert all of the over-the-air (rabbit-ears) TV stations in the country to digital on February 17th, 2009, today. The TV stations will be able to spend less money on sustaining power for analog signals, and the "airspace" will be able to be used for emergency channels and new high-speed wireless networks.

However, the big transfer is being delayed. A fund that was created a few years ago to help supply people with digital cable boxes if they did not already have them no longer has any money in it (who knew?). Also, it turns out that millions of Americans still aren't prepared. So congress hurriedly passed another bill saying that stations could switch on February 17th if they wanted to, but REALLY everyone has to get it done in June.

Now... some people paying attention to the details have noticed that this whole ordeal is hardest on poor families (mostly minorities). Also, the details coincide with corporate investments. Verizon will make lots of money from the switch, but, aha, AT&T will make MORE money from the delay.

Now, do you think this plan and its delays are really based on the situations of the consumers? Most of the news articles cite consumer-based reasons (not enough money to give people discounts on cable converter boxes, not enough people are properly educated). However, there are far more Americans unprepared for the switch than the proposed minimum when the plan for the change was first developed. And yet it pushes onward. And what about the activities of the congress members and corporations involved? It is very difficult to find articles about them. What is it that makes people pay less attention to these things, and more likely to not believe them when they hear them, if that is the case? Is this whole thing going to affect you?

Here are some articles... The Associated Press article:
An article about the effect on minorities:
And one about corporate activities:
(Image of antique TV (and old-fashioned solution for poor reception) borrowed from:


  1. It is interesting to see how technology is helping people, yet leading us to an unknown end. From a critical power conflict theory point of view, I see the conflict between groups that can make money off the new technology and the groups that have to spend money that they might not have to buy the technology. I do not think this plan is based on the situations of the consumers. Why would they want to spend money to get an ugly box for their TV for the almost same service? As the article points out, the winners will be the big corporations involved, which are the financial supporters for Congress. The term “systematic oppression” kept jumping into my head as I was reading this article. To see the Congress pass new bill to “cover” the old one, it’ll be interesting to see what the situation will be like in June.

  2. This thread is now closed. Too bad only Ever jumped on the train! This was an interesting topic.