A few weeks ago, President Obama indicated that he wanted to delay the long-planned, mid-February date for discontinuing the broadcasting of analog TV signals. This has been in the works for several years (I think more over a decade) and has been much discussed and promoted over the past year. Yesterday, congress gave their approval to a four-month delay.
The plan was to phase out the analog signals in the US, allowing those frequencies to be reused for other communication purposes. Theroetically, digital TV provides a better picture and audio quality, plus allows for auxiliary programming channels. Consumers with new digital TVs are all set; so are those who watch television over cable or satellite.
However, consumers with old analog TVs and who watch broadcast stations will no longer be able to watch TV once the analog broadcasting has ceased. They will need to upgrade their TV, switch to cable or satellite service, or buy a digital TV converter box (about $50 to $60). For the past year, this fact has been heavily promoted. Also, a government program provided coupons for $40 off the price of the converters. Unfortunately, that program disbursed all their coupons and is out of money, but apparently some people still need the converters.
Frankly, most of the people who have not made the needed changes by now, will not likely make them in the next four months either. They will continue to blissfully watch their TVs until they cease to function. Then they will be outraged. They will demand that “the government” do something about it. Some will even get mad at our president and blame him.
Being able to watch TV is not an essential element of survival — housing and employment is. In this case, we should just let the unprepared suffer the consequences for their lack of planning and move on to more important things.
Unfortunately, this could be another bailout in the making.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.