Anyone who watches TV has had to see the numerous ads from retailers and public service announcements that have been running for at least a year warning people that the digital transition is coming next month on February 17th. Even if somehow people managed to miss the commercials on TV promoting the transition, it would be hard to miss the news paper headlines, Internet stories and signs in big retailers like Walmart reminding people that the digital transition is coming and without a digital TV, cable, satellite or a converter box, their TVs will not work after February 17th.
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Despite the massive inundation of information to make everyone aware of the transition, a significant number of households in America remain unready for the transition. According to a report from The Nielsen Company, who compiles the numbers often cited by the government on the digital transition, at least 6.5 million American homes are not ready for the transition and will find their screens will go dark next month.
The Senate voted this month, unanimously for a change, to delay the digital transition from the widely publicized February 17th date to June 12th. President Obama had asked that the digital transition be delayed as well to give those unprepared for the switch time to get ready.
Part of the reason the Senate voted to delay the transition is that the coupon program had a massive wait list for the free coupons good for $40 off the required converter. The problem with the coupon program was twofold. First many people who needed coupons failed to request them until the last minute. Second many people who did request coupons failed to use them before the 90-day expiration window.
Those two factors worked together to create the massive backlist of coupon requests and drain the program of the funds set aside to pay for the coupons. The problem that many American's has is that the single reason many people remain unprepared for the transition is simply procrastination. People just did not do what they needed to. The converters with the coupons were free or very close to free so money wasn't the reason in most cases.
Should we be postponing the digital transition simply because people chose not to act until the very last minute? I think not. Life does not work that way in the real world. If you go to work and you simply do not do what you need to, does your boss postpone deadlines? If you are in school and you just don’t do your homework, does your teacher just pat you on the back and delay the due date for you? No they don't.
I think what we need in America is more consequences and repercussions. If you don’t do what you should, there needs to be a price paid. You don’t get ready for the digital transition you don’t watch TV until you get ready. That seems fair to me. It's not like TV is a necessity. You can get the same information from radio, at much less than the cost of a TV or even a converter box. I for one can’t understand when TV became anything more than a luxury in America.
At school you fail, at work you can get fired, so why does the government want to postpone the switch? Not only is it an inconvenience for those who did the right thing and got ready, but it could be a huge financial burden on TV stations.
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The House felt that the Senate approved bill to delay the transition wasn't a good thing for Americans and voted to not delay the transition. That doesn’t mean the House won’t come back and approve the measure with new conditions though. That means that we may not know until much closer to the February 17th transition date if analog broadcasts will actually end.