Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are thinking that the switchover from analog to digital is a good one. I'm just not one of them.

I'll be the first to admit that the picture quality is better. But if I cared about picture quality so much, I wouldn't still be watching VHS tapes, and I would probably have an HD TV, along with cable or satellite. The truth of the matter is, I probably watch too much TV as it is, and it wouldn't kill me to stop. But I'd hate to have no television access, particularly when there are tornados and things like that.

I'm not one of those who waited until the last minute to buy a box; we've had ours for months. But it turns out you have to have more than a converter box to get channels; you've also got to have an antenna. And not just any antenna--the right antenna.

Which brings me to my beef with the switchover. Unfortunately, the government hasn't been altogether, um, complete in their information campaign about digital TV. The literature says that you'll receive the same channels you currently get if you use an antenna or rabbit ears.

That may be true for cities, but not for the rest of us. Most channels don't come in. A couple are mostly watchable, but even those are like watching a RealPlayer video on dialup, the thing starts buffering, and the picture disappears. Or the sound is garbled, like that old fast food restaurant that's too cheap to update their drive-through equipment. And it inevitably happens at the most inopportune moments. "And that's why I tell you that the killer is ... myplxltmged." Or something like that.

So pity us country folks. With analog, we could get most stations, though with varying degrees of quality. With digital, the few stations we get without a fancy antenna are barely watchable because they are so garbled. I'm tempted to just junk the TV and read the piles of books in my house! (Either that, or upgrade my internet and just stream Netflix to my TV.)

In any case, now you know why I for one am for today's delay. My motives aren't that noble, but then, I don't think that the folks pushing the whole DTV initiative have demonstrated pure motives either.


Anonymous said...

We haven't even tried to hook ours up yet so we weren't aware of that problem. We might not even try now. Have you contacted any of AR's finest legislators? Get anyone you know out there to do that. You never know what will happen. cpg

Anonymous said...

You know I'm no fan of the switchover either. Here is an interesting article from NPR about one community that is out of tv now:


In related news, the more I read, the more obvious it is to me that Obama's new FCC people are no better than Bush's FCC people. No surprises there though.

Somehow in the past 10 years the FCC changed from being the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Corporation Commission.

The sweeping regulatory changes of the past 10 years have not helped to maintain or improve the ability of all Americans to have access to news, weather and emergency broadcasts. In fact, it could easily be argued that the opposite has occurred. Even if you have the money to burn on satellite tv, it is often an extra fee to get your local stations!

The very people most at risk from tornado/storm/flood damage are the very people who can no longer get a reliable tv signal. Even if you invest in a more powerful antenna the signal disappears when you need it most - during a storm. At least with analog you could get a fuzzy picture in a storm - with digital it disappears if it gets very windy or stormy.