Did you know there are more than 7 million television users in the United States unprepared for the switch to digital that is set to take place on February 17? (Of which we are one!) In case you are one of the hundreds of million of people who’ve been getting their television through a digital signal for so many years you have no idea what everyone is talking about this is the deal. Back in 2005 Congress passed a bill saying all television would switch to digital broadcast in February of 2009 — decision no doubt heralded by television sales people everywhere (the actual benefits of which are discussed here). For those not in the market for a new TV — and one assumes if you don’t have cable by this point you either can’t afford it or don’t care — the government allocated $2 billion to subsidize converter boxes that would allow analog TVs to receive a digital signal. Except they didn’t anticipate the volume of requests that poured in, or spent the money elsewhere, because now there is a backlog of requests (New Yorkers line up here) and not enough boxes, and no money left, and if all continues as planned 7 million people with be without a television signal next month.
We have mentioned a number of times on our Media Menu podcast that, speaking solely for our non-digital selves, we get most of our TV online (just like Rachel Maddow, apparently!). However the concern seems to be that many low income families, particularly those with young children, will be unfairly punished by the switch (no Sesame Street!). As a result Barack Obama is asking for a delay and the networks, led by Fox, (maybe not surprisingly) don’t seem to have much of a problem with it either. What say you readers?