Digital TV transition may be postponed

Throughout all of 2008, America’s televisions blared with commercials about the government-mandated transition from the analog signal to one that is purely digital.

Now that 2009 is upon us, so is the transition. All analog televisions that use rooftop antennas or antennas that simply sit on the set will now have to have a digital converter box attached to them in order to receive a picture. Feb. 17 will be the last day stations can broadcast in analog.

The government is offering two $40 coupons per household to help viewers obtain the converter boxes which range in price from $40 to $80 a unit. In order to apply, an online form must be filled out and submitted either through mail or the Internet. Those who began this mandate feel that this is a way to help ease tensions during the transition.

At Eastern, cable is already available through the televisions in residence hall lounges. However, the university does not offer cable in dorm rooms. Some students have already gotten digital converter boxes and are ready for the signal to change, while others would rather not bother or do not have a TV in their room at all.

“Even if I had a television in my room I probably wouldn’t get the converter box and I doubt that the school would provide them if I did,” first-year Danielle Craig said.

While viewers have been warned about the upcoming change in over-the-air broadcast television, many are still not prepared to face it. President Barak Obama and a group of people, called his “Transition Team,” have been trying to have the date pushed back to June 12, arguing that many are not ready because of the shortage of coupons. The shortage exists because the Commerce Department has reached their $1.34 billion limit set by Congress for funding the coupons.

At the moment, anyone who applies to get one will be put on a waiting list and will probably not receive their coupon until after Feb. 17. The coupon is not necessary to purchase the converter box, but the government feels responsible to help pay for the transition since Americans had no choice in the decision.

The National Association of Broadcasters believes that a forced delay is not necessary because the coupon problem can be fixed. Still, many in the federal government are pushing for the date to be moved back.


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