Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama's first official screw-up

I have not posted anything here in quite a long time. It seemed rather futile to rail against the previous administration - there was so much to complain about and so many people complaining, but with the new Obama administration it doesn't feel quite as much like yelling at the wind.

The thought of 6.5 million hopeless cases going without TV after Feb. 17 seems to have been just a bit more than he could stomach, and so Obama asked Congress to delay the digital TV transition and they are doing their best to comply. It is not a done deal yet, but it looks like after one more try the House will pass the bill that the Senate already passed to delay the DTV transition.
(Last minute update - the bill has been passed setting the new deadline as June 12.)

Anyone who has a TV has seen countless ads explaining that the analog broadcasts are going to end, and that you either need a new TV or a converter box. Over $1.3 Billion has been spent on coupons to cover the cost of the boxes, plus who knows how much more has been spent on the ads. Anyone who hasn't figured this out by the deadline isn't going to figure it out EVER, so moving the deadline isn't going to help them. Granted, the funds for the converter box coupons have run out, but that isn't a problem that is fixed by pushing back the deadline, this issue requires either more funds or a decision that we've paid for as many boxes as we think is reasonable. (There is some sense in waiting due to the way the coupon program works - only 2/3 of the coupons have been redeemed, and after a couple of months the unused coupons will expire and we can send out more, without needing any more funding.)


People have had months to get a coupon, and the coupon plus $10 will get you a converter box, so it seems that there is really no excuse for people to not have one yet if they are going to need one.
This is a deadline that has been looming for years. Delaying it will only add to the confusion and increase the cost, while still leaving millions without TV when the deadline finally arrives. We'll need a whole new round of ads to not only make folks understand how to switch to digital, but to make everyone aware of the change in schedule. We'll probably allocate more funds to pay for more converter boxes. To complicate things further, most broadcasters will be allowed to make the DTV transition early if they want, and so some folks will still lose their signal before they are ready, so really all that is accomplished by moving the date is an expansion of the confusion.

Nobody's perfect, and while I think that our new president will be about as good as can be, like anyone he is bound to slip up every now and then. At least this first one isn't really that big a deal (but it still bugs me).

1 comment:

wunelle said...

It's hard for me to fathom what they think a delay will accomplish. Maybe they just don't want a massive uprising of TV watchers when so many other fires are burning on the administration's desk (not that anybody in the upper administration will be much put out by this subject).

But they're just going to go thru the exact same turmoil now in five months.

We moved over to the new AT&T Uverse digital service, which seems to work well. I haven't actually tried to pick up broadcast signals now for quite a few years. Changing times, I guess.