Digital TV Changeover – Are We Ready?

So, I’ve been keeping an eye on the alleged change to digital TV transmissions for the last several years.  My interest, considering I don’t really watch TV, comes more from being curious about how the market will handle the government declared transition to a digital TV format.  It occurred to me the other day that the deadline for this transition is a mere two months (or less) away.  If you’ve been following this, you’re aware that the supposed deadline has been pushed back at least a couple times due to readiness concerns.

Within the last year, I set up a media center PC and HDTV antenna that would be capable of receiving HD broadcasts.  I did this for the technical knowledge and the event of an emergency.  I’ve found that I am simply no longer able to watch television after over a decade without it – it insults my intelligence and I am no longer drawn in by it’s assault on cognitive thought.

The results of my HDTV experiment were astonishing to me, considering the deadline was nearly a year away at the time.  In Spokane, Washington – out of the dozen channels that were supposedly available “over the air” – I could only receive about 4 of them.  Now that I’ve moved to Missoula, MT and set up my HD rig…I was shocked to see that I can only receive 3 channels!  Both Fox and CBS cannot be received at my home.  The broadcast antennas were simply too far away for me to receive the signal for these channels.  CBS doesn’t even have a plan to broadcast off a nearer tower, whereas Fox will supposedly be broadcasting off the closer tower post-conversion.

Also, after getting the rig set up, it was apparent to me that much of the programming on the boob tube is still standard definition format.  I’ve read countless articles how news crews aren’t set up for HDTV broadcasts and it’s shocking to see that only a handful of broadcasts are actually in HD format.  Not just that, but I’m pretty certain that millions are still not set up to receive the new digital format.  Additionally, I noted that the digital broadcasts were volatile – it seemed fairly common in my limited experience that “down time” was a common theme.  It’s pretty clear that the market just isn’t ready for the conversion, despite the government’s whim on the matter.

Perhaps the cable and satellite providers have the edge – from reports from my friends, there’s dozens of HD channels up and operational.  For me though, there’s just simply no way that I’m paying $50+ a month for something I’ll hardly use – and not just that, I’m offended that I would have to pay “extra” for HD programming.

This is the typical result of a government mandate being pushed on the market.  The market and individuals have to scramble and spend billions of dollars in new equipment to comply.  It’s no wonder that there’s some resistance and delays associated with it!  I’ll be really curious to see if the nation will be ready for this change next year.  I suspect that it won’t come without a slew of complaints once the old “analog” system is turned off.

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