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Subject: Honest question about HD tv rss

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lil li
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Why is the U.S. government so invested in making sure everyone in this country has converter boxes, so invested that they pushed back the date that the networks or whatever can switch in order to make sure that everyone gets their converter boxes, and if they can't afford them, the government will give them vouchers to make sure they have them?

I asked my kids the other night, and the best they could come up with is the state might want to be sure that we are informed in an emergency or something. BUT if that's the case, why not make sure that we all have radios and fresh batteries? I'm not buying it.

So, why does the government care so much about how we get our television, at our access to media, that they are taking a really long time to get it right?

I really don't know. It just strikes me as weird as hell.

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I think it has to do with the sale of bandwidth rights. Somebody help me here.
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Kenneth Bailey
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bat girl wrote:
Why is the U.S. government so invested in making sure everyone in this country has converter boxes, so invested that they pushed back the date that the networks or whatever can switch in order to make sure that everyone gets their converter boxes, and if they can't afford them, the government will give them vouchers to make sure they have them?

I asked my kids the other night, and the best they could come up with is the state might want to be sure that we are informed in an emergency or something. BUT if that's the case, why not make sure that we all have radios and fresh batteries? I'm not buying it.

So, why does the government care so much about how we get our television, at our access to media, that they are taking a really long time to get it right?

I really don't know. It just strikes me as weird as hell.

I know that the initial delays were put in so that American (hehe) TV manufacturers could catch up with the other country's manufacturers. This was originally supposed to happen in 2006 (or something). They pushed the date out longer until now that broadcasters could get the equipment and people could convert their TVs. This last delay is pretty stupid if you ask me. People know this was coming and have had plenty of time to prepare for it. Color me surprised if we don't get another delay in June.

The big problem is that the broadcasters have already invested alot of cash into this and want to dismantle the analog stuff. Also, the government has already sold the bandwidth, so it will have to pull the trigger at some point.
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Ken
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Allow me to get being pedantic out of the way, if you don't mind. It's not a transition to HDTV (high definition television), it's a transition to digital television transmissions.

And Chloe got it exactly right. Digital TV uses less RF spectrum to transmit its signal (and does so with higher quality as an added plus). That allows the government to provide less to TV stations and use more for public safety radios (a massive transition here needs some free spectrum), some reserved for future use, and to sell the remainder for wireless services.

The last wireless auction didn't sell all of the spectrum offered and still netted something north of $20 billion in revenue for the government from wireless carriers.
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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Follow the money. There are some phone companies that have invested heavily to take advantage of the new bandwidth that will be available. Other companies aren't so ready to jump into that realm. These slower companies are heavy contributors to the Congressmen that worked on pushing this back.

Follow the $$$
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So what does the government gain from giving away vouchers for people to get converter boxes, so they have have better tv? Why can't people just get the converter boxes themselves if they want tv? Why does the government want to make sure everyone has tv? Is tv a right?
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Ken
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The coupons are designed to avoid forcing people to buy new televisions and starting a riot when their screen goes blank. At a total estimate cost of less than $1 billion, they help people keep older TVs and accomplish their objectives.

We come out way ahead.
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Ken
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okiedokie wrote:
Follow the money. There are some phone companies that have invested heavily to take advantage of the new bandwidth that will be available.


Who are you referring to? The spectrum that's being freed up hasn't been auctioned yet, and it's not required for any prior auctions to be completed.
 
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It is all about the money. In this case, advertising dollars. Studies have shown that advertising works. If you do not have access to TV, then you can't watch the commercials. If you aren't watching the commercials, you won't buy as much. If you don't buy, the economy suffers. The government is basically betting that by encouraging people to buy the converter boxes, more people will be able to continue watching commercials and increase their purchasing.
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I hadn't considered that people might freak out if their screens go blank -- that sort of makes me laugh. I've been working on the assumption that the gov't doesn't want us to miss adverts. Cuz most of the "entertainment" on tv is just a vehicle to deliver the adverts anyway.

The big fat braid of government, media, and corporations is disturbing to me, and I honestly don't know what to make of it. It kind of creeps me out that the government is willing to pay so that people won't miss their shows -- weird.



 
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GAWD wrote:
We are well and truly in the shitter if TVs (!) are what's keeping the people from rioting, and/or if people will riot at all just b/c they lose their TV signal. devil

Marx may have been correct back in the day, but he needs to be updated, "Television is the opium of the people"


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GAWD wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
The coupons are designed to avoid forcing people to buy new televisions and starting a riot when their screen goes blank.


We are well and truly in the shitter if TVs (!) are what's keeping the people from rioting, and/or if people will riot at all just b/c they lose their TV signal. devil


Dude, didn't you watch V for Vendetta?
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Ken
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bat girl wrote:
The big fat braid of government, media, and corporations is disturbing to me, and I honestly don't know what to make of it. It kind of creeps me out that the government is willing to pay so that people won't miss their shows -- weird.


The coupons were mostly intended for the elderly (fixed income) or low income who would find the expense of a new TV a large burden.
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perfalbion wrote:
bat girl wrote:
The big fat braid of government, media, and corporations is disturbing to me, and I honestly don't know what to make of it. It kind of creeps me out that the government is willing to pay so that people won't miss their shows -- weird.


The coupons were mostly intended for the elderly (fixed income) or low income who would find the expense of a new TV a large burden.


The converter boxes are 40 bucks, not a huge burden. Even back when we were supporting a family of five on about 10,000 a year (around 2001), we could have saved up forty bucks for a converter box to make our rabbit ears work better. But of course, we wouldn't have had to because the gov't is handing out vouchers to make SURE that we keep the tv's on.

I'm no conspiracy theorist, but it's just peculiar to me.

As an aside Ken, your posts on people rioting plus the thought of fixed income elderly folks' tv's going blank have mixed together and created in my head images of angry cane wielding folks taking to the streets demanding access to Matlock and Murder She Wrote.
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First: there's a difference between digital TV and HD tv. Digital TV doesn't have to be high definition(and it often isn't). HD signals don't have to be digital at all.

The advantage of digital TV is that it allows more channels in a smaller amount of spectrum. There's only so much we can cram in airwaves. As technology improves, we can put more info in less space, which allows us to use the new unused spectrum for other activities, like more cellphone channels, over the air internet, military uses... anything, really.

Chances are that in a few years we'll see both Europe and the US to use some of the now free space, which probably includes auctioning the spectrum off to the highest bidder.
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Ken
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bat girl wrote:
The converter boxes are 40 bucks, not a huge burden.


You're right. Except the coupons are also designed as an education program so that folks don't end up going out and buying a new television. But since the feds are forcing this on people, the coupons allow folks that want/need them to get access to them without offering a free box to every household by default. If everyone did use the program, it'd cost a whole lot more than it is.

Quote:
As an aside Ken, your posts on people rioting plus the thought of fixed income elderly folks' tv's going blank have mixed together and created in my head images of angry cane wielding folks taking to the streets demanding access to Matlock and Murder She Wrote.


Never get between a geriatric and Angela Lansbury. Rule to live by.
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I truly do not get this ruckus. The amount of time and money we've spent on the 'digital' tv conversion is obscene. I haven't had cable tv in my home for nearly ten years now, and I truly think it's for the better. And the few times I do fire up my tv to see what's out there... well, let's just say I'm not their demographic.

Our culture is such that cable tv is virtually equated with electricity, in terms of 'need.' So I totally agree with the OP, WTF?
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Kenneth Bailey
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derk wrote:
I truly do not get this ruckus. The amount of time and money we've spent on the 'digital' tv conversion is obscene. I haven't had cable tv in my home for nearly ten years now, and I truly think it's for the better. And the few times I do fire up my tv to see what's out there... well, let's just say I'm not their demographic.

Our culture is such that cable tv is virtually equated with electricity, in terms of 'need.' So I totally agree with the OP, WTF?

Not everyone has cable or satellite TV. There are these areas in the United States that often don't get attention in the media called rural. Cable doesn't service them and satellite may be expensive for those folks. Those folks generally rely on an antenna.

And I'm glad that you don't watch TV. Good for you. Here's a gold star.
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Ken
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derk wrote:
I truly do not get this ruckus. The amount of time and money we've spent on the 'digital' tv conversion is obscene. I haven't had cable tv in my home for nearly ten years now, and I truly think it's for the better. And the few times I do fire up my tv to see what's out there... well, let's just say I'm not their demographic.


The US has cable penetration that's just over 50% of all households in the country according to the cable TV industry group. Just over 50% of those subscribe to basic cable. Another 25-30% subscribe to a higher grade of service. Satellite accounts for something like 5% of the total market. That means that between 15-20% of all US households only receive TV over-the-air, mostly in rural areas.

That's somewhere around 45-60 million total people. It's not an insignificant number.

And we'll ultimately turn a profit from the change due to the spectrum available.
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Neil Carr
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I've wondered about this myself, particularly because the media doesn't seem to want to bother asking the question.

This is really the only article I've seen that has bothered to address it.

I think it comes down to the fact that the TV, and not the radio, is the core medium in which we function as an information society. In terms of basic public safety the argument could be made that you want to make sure as many people as possible have access to TV signals so that emergency news and information can get out.

I think ultimately it's the elderly that really drive the whole situation. You have a large population of people that are increasingly becoming clueless with modern technology, only understanding what they grew up with which was basic TV.

Try imagining an 89 year old grandmother who still lives alone, on a fixed income, and never understood how to set the VCR. She owns an ancient cabinet TV from the early 80's and votes in every election.

Powerful forces are at work!
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Jess i TRON
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Without the voucher program, then the conversion to digital would negatively impact the poor, anyone who can't or doesn't want to go out or buy a new TV.

The conversion to digital benefits everyone indirectly by freeing up spectrum, as hibikir explained.

With the voucher program, the cost to consumers of over-the-air TV is picked up and spread around, just like the benefits are spread around.
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David desJardins
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I think other people explained it fine, but I'll repeat the same thing in different terms. The government is collecting a lot of money by auctioning off the old TV frequencies. But that comes at the expense of some people who lose something that they had (free over-the-air TV reception). So the government decided to take some of that money that they collected from the sale of frequencies (a pretty small fraction of the total) and give people coupons so they could buy converter boxes. Another benefit of this program was that it ensured to manufacturers that there would be a large demand for these boxes, so that they would actually make them in large quantities and the cost would be low.

When you ask "what does the government gain" from this, well, we have government "of the people", the government is the same as us, we gain by receiving the coupons in the same amount as it costs us to give them out.
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echoota wrote:
Try imagining an 89 year old grandmother who still lives alone, on a fixed income, and never understood how to set the VCR. She owns an ancient cabinet TV from the early 80's and votes in every election.
And the sad thing is, she'll be pissed when she has to turn on a converter box, switch the TV to either channel 3, 4, or auxilliary input and switch channels on the box and not the TV.

I got my box (voucher arrived a couple of days ago, so I'll have to go get my refund) and I very much dislike that I can't just flip channels on the TV and use a single remote. It's worse with the VCR. Argh!

Anyway, I see no consipracy. If the US decided tomorrow that we're gonna switch all the roads around and drive on the wrong side of the street, they damn well retrofit my car so I don't have to buy one with the steering wheel on the right. If the government uses all its power to totally disrupt millions and millions of people, they gotta pay for the privelege.
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Jake
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If the federal government made gasoline unavailable in the USA for some reason, you'd better believe they'd have vouchers to convert your car to run off of something different
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What strikes me is that all of these posts are operating under the assumption that television is somehow a necessity. It's being compared here to cars. I mean cars are a necessity for many of us, especially those of us who live where there is poor or no public transit and we need to drive to work. But TV? Why is tv a necessity? The networks, not the government, are switching. They aren't being forced by the government to switch, but the government is making sure that we all still have our primary source of entertainment and the primary source of manufactured consumer desire in our country.

I do see how the poor will be impacted most in terms of their potentially limited access to this medium for entertainment (yeah and news too, but come on, the paper is more interesting and we can read it at the library for free, AND a subscription to is costs less than cable). But the poor are most impacted by their lack of access to all technology as technology moves forward. The government isn't giving away vouchers for other technology, some of which are arguably more helpful to us (cell phones or GPS systems for example). FURTHER, the poor are most impacted by their need for winter clothes, a good furnace, and windows that don't let in the cold. Why are we handing out vouchers to make sure people have access to entertainment rather than warm clothes?

What is at stake for the government? Why must they make sure everyone has access to television -- to entertainment, when they don't make sure everyone has access to a warm meal?

oh, and fwiw, I don't really think it's the government's job to do either. I do think it's OUR job to make sure people are warm and fed. IT's no one's job to make sure somebody else can watch the CW tonight.

SO, why I guess, I've been led to these questions:

Why do we assume access to TV is as fundamental to our way of life as driving?

Why has the state placed such a high priority on maintaining our access to tv?
 
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