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The Nanny State to the Rescue, Again - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [Pete and Pam's pages (photos and some commentary)] [Pam's journal] [Our company] [My Flickr Photos] [Arisia]
May 27th, 2008
09:20 am

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The Nanny State to the Rescue, Again
Technology is marching on, and on February 17th, 2009 the analog stations will go dark. I know many in my parents' generation were kids when it was a big deal when you could afford to buy a set to get broadcasts in color. The difference, of course, with the digital standard is that you the broadcasts are not inherently "backwards compatible." Once the trasition happens if you have an analog TV and you take your signals over-the-air only, as we do, your TV would be unusable.

Don't worry, though, the U.S. Department of Commerce has come to your rescue with a $40 coupon for converter box, limit two per household. The converter [or "Set-Top Box" as it is sometimes called] down-converts from digital TV to analog.

I went ahead and applied for ours...a converter box would be one way to keep our DVD-R/TiVo box operational for a while longer.

That web-site, if you want to go grab your little nugget of "economic stimulus" from your Uncle Sam: https://www.dtv2009.gov/

Hat-Tip to xoder for the information, complete with visual..

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:greendalek
Date:May 27th, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
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I still don't get why aforementioned Federal agency is setting itself up as the holy savior to this "problem" when selfsame .gov is the original CAUSE of it to begin with!
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From:awfief
Date:May 27th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
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I don't understand why TV is such a necessity the the government is paying for/subsidizing up to $80 per household for this.

The theory is that it's where people get important news like weather, etc. Still, $80 per household is a LOT of money, money that we're all paying for anyway through taxes.

So.....why not just make those who "can afford it" go out and spend their own $80, and those who can't can get a voucher, just like food stamps?

(note that I'm glad happypete is taking advantage of the benefit....I'm just not sure why the benefit is even offered. It's ridiculous.)
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From:dindin
Date:May 27th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
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I don't understand why Pete still had an analog tv...
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From:n2mlq
Date:May 27th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
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well, there is just a bit of backstory. Aside from the joy of HD and the potential for multicasting, analogue TV is horridly in-efficent in its use of available bandwidth.

Now, where do we get bandwidth for all those nice advanced mobile services that some people want, yep you got it, but shuffling TV stations around and freeing up a large slice of spectrum.

Spectrum that was then auctioned off ( now, that's a different issue entirely) and will be used for neat new things. Some of which are also useful like public safety networks. The last number I saw for the outcome of the bandwidth auction was $17B or roughly 10x the predicted cost of the coupon program.

As to why the subsidy, part of it is pork and part is still the welfare state, but any way you slice it, the converters that are available for coupons (which are actually credit card analogues, not a paper voucher) are functionally identical and purposefully *DUMB*, I've read the spec (and dry reading it was) and if the box exceeds utter basic it's not paid for at the cell phone companies tab.

Please remember that Digital TV != High Def and all these boxes will receive is Standard Definition Digital TV (SDTV.)

Yes, I to have a coupon, and will wind up spending the $15 + coupon to get a converter box just for yucks, I have a TV with an ATSC tuner.
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From:happypete
Date:May 28th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC)

oh bleh...

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so these converters only give you the SD "sub-channel?"

Well, $15-ish to keep the expensive TiVo box alive might be worth it.
From:alcinoe
Date:May 27th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
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We have a digital box and the proper rabbit ears and can't get in any of our double digit stations other than PBS (which I love so that is good) and Shopping networks (yes plural) and four Christian stations. I want my Fox and my channel 56 (used to be WB I forgot what it is now)! Even 38 would be nice. The problem is, I can only get them in without the digital. I keep hoping that they just haven't made the switch, but I fear that because a digital signal is weaker than analog that we may just end up losing these valuable (to me) stations.
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