So yesterday was the big day to switch to digital television. Estimates have it at over 2 million who were left without television following the switch. I just wonder how many are left with television, but much less television.
Let me explain.
I live in the country between Dayton and Cincinnati. I am right on the line of being considered the Cincinnati area, with people a couple miles north of me being considered Dayton. With old analog television I was able to get about a dozen channels with the old rabbit ears. Now I get four, and that’s after buying a nice set top antenna for digital television. And when it was raining? Drop those channels to one.
Luckily I do have DirectTV also, so its not that big of a lose for me, but this is farm land and a lot of people are struggling, so they can’t afford cable or satellite. Now I am wondering what those people are going to have to do. I guess we will go back to the age of huge antennas on top of houses.
But to me the biggest victims of this switch are the seniors. A lot of them were here when television was born. They had to go through the switches from black and white to color, from turning a knob to pushing a button, and now they go from tuning in a channel to having to search for a signal and hoping they can find one.
That is a technological hurdle, and people on fixed incomes can’t afford $50 a month for cable. That is the bare basic package for Time Warner in this area.
It seems like this whole plan wasn’t put together that well. Certain things that would have helped is banning the sale of analog televisions about five years ago. Instead manufacturers were still selling them (and probably still are).
Another part of the plan should have been the commissioning of a channel to remain on as a public service. If severe weather hits people turn on the television. Now many can’t, and that includes those with the digital equipment who just live far enough away they can’t receive anything during storms. Congress should have allocated a single channel and made that the national emergency channel. Say channel 5 remains on the air for all analog televisions across the country and is used as a public broadcast system. They could run this for the next 10 years or so and revisit it after that time, depending on the penetration of digital television.
I fully understand the need to make the switch to digital, but it feels like the job wasn’t done properly. The coupon program for converter boxes was a good idea, but the planning of signal penetration wasn’t really considered. That’s a major failure and one that could put people at risk as they lose their lifeline to important information, especially in the middle of severe weather season.