Thursday, May 24, 2007
There are a number of scenarios that people anticipate seeing in the near future that result from this transition and they all revolve around the fear that the transition- which will make TV sets that lack digital tuners unable to receive programming- will produce mass hysteria when millions of people suddenly find themselves deprived of TV. Some analysts have even gone so far as to anticipate that some of the poor ignorant over the air TV viewers who suddenly find themselves without the entertainment of a glowing screen will descend into a subhuman mob. This mob will supposedly ransack consumer electronics stores and wealthier people's homes in an effort to get the all important relics that they need to access the TV programming that they've become so accustomed to. To read what some of these analysts write, you would think that the twenty one million people in the United States that don't subscribe to either satellite TV or cable TV will turn the entire country into some weird, technology crazed combination of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, Hiroshima at the end of World War II, and Paris during the French Revolution. While the rest of us can probably recognize that this is somewhat extreme image of what could happen- especially considering that many of those twenty one million are supporters of Public Broadcasting- there's little doubt that there will be a lot of unhappy people all over the country if over the air TV is suddenly inaccessible to them.
Despite all of the paranoia about the analog to digital transition, the federal government has actually made some preparations to deal with the situation. One of the preparations is making coupons available to each household in the United States to help offset the cost of buying a set top box that will receive the digital TV programming over the air and then convert it to an analog signal that conventional TV technology can display. These coupons will each contribute forty dollars towards the cost of the set top converter boxes that are anticipated to cost about sixty dollars each.
One of the reasons that most of the concern is over viewers that receive their TV from over the air transmissions is that it's been assumed that cable TV and satellite TV companies will supply their subscribers with the necessary equipment to allow them to view digital programming. Apparently that's not a sure thing either though. For example, there's a proposed law out there that will supposedly force cable TV providers to deliver analog and digital programming at the same time so that customers that currently watch analog programming won't have to upgrade. This is obviously appealing to analog cable customers who don't want to go to the trouble or cost of upgrading their equipment, but it's raising the ire of customers who want more HDTV feeds sooner. Having to deliver both analog and digital TV feeds takes up more bandwidth that many would be better used for HDTV content.
While efforts are being made to smooth the transition to digital TV technology, only time will tell how it all ends up.