DTV: The Latest From the Washington Vaudeville Show


Last Thursday, I noted that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was not going to allow all 682 television stations that wanted to make the transition from analog to digital transmissions this Tuesday, the 17th of February, because doing would cause "a significant risk of substantial public harm."

So, the FCC informed 191 stations (which was then reduced to 123 after more thought) that they couldn't make the transition to digital broadcast only unless they jumped through a series 8 hoops before this weekend.

According to a story in today's Chicago Tribune, of the 123 on the FCC list, 43 stations said they can't jump through all 8 hoops, and therefore have decided not to make the transition.

According to the Tribune, "Stations that are postponing their analog shutdowns from Feb. 17 until June 12 are in and around Bakersfield, Calif.; Billings, Mont.; Charleston, W.V.; Dayton, Ohio; Eugene, Ore.; Lincoln, Neb.; Mobile, Ala.; Wichita, Kan., among others." The list of the gang of 43 can be found here.

It is unclear whether the 43 stations are prohibited from making the DTV transition until 12 June, or whether they will have an opportunity to make the change before then as FCC had earlier promised.

The Washington Post ran a nice story over the weekend describing how the US government's classic "who's on first" approach has screwed up this whole DTV transition.

An excerpt: "But with two federal agencies in charge, no clear idea of how many people would be affected and constant partisan disagreements over money, the program [has] foundered ..."

"The result is confusion for the millions of Americans for whom the television is not simply another electronic device in the home but a crucial source of news and information. The idea that the government might deprive people of television reception strikes some as unjust and, in the event of emergencies, possibly dangerous."

Interesting, but alas, unsurprising reading. Most times, the folks in Congress couldn't organize a piss-up in a brewery no matter how much time they were given.

As always, Spectrum would like to hear about your experiences on the changeover (for those who experience it) this week. Go here and join the crowd.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City