While there was television to be watched before that, TV as we know it arrived in 1941, with the adoption of the technological standards proposed by the National Television Standards Committee.
And it departs in February 2009, superseded by purely-digital transmissions, motivated largely by the desire to free up spectrum space. So the frequencies occupied by channels 2 through 6 and 52 through 69 (70 to 83 disappeared years ago) will end up doing something else. This will likely accommodate more stations, which seems odd until you consider that it’s possible to put digital stations in the same area on adjacent channels, something you could never do in the old analog system. (Before you write in: there’s a 4-MHz hole between 4 and 5; 6 and 7 are on totally separate bands; likewise 13 and 14.)
I have an antenna on the top of my house and I get the broadcast channels, thank you very much. And really I don’t want anymore than that because I actually have to get something done with 227 channels my ass is glued to the barcalounger and only moves for snacks. What about us? Well, we get a $40 coupon from the government (or so they say) with which to buy the converter box which will likely retail for $60. Though something tells me, that if you’re not low income or can’t prove you’re needy you’ll end up paying the full $60 out of your own pocket. Just a feeling I have so don’t quote me.
Apparently the “air” they now use to broadcast television signals the old-fashioned way will be auctioned off for other use. Now, don’t you have to wonder who is going to bid on that air and what the heck are they going to do with it? It seems to me that every square inch of space doesn’t have to be used. We could just let it be, couldn’t we? Nope, it’s going to be auctioned off and it wouldn’t surprise me [if] Lil Kim of Korea or Imajihad of Iran or Chubby Chavez bought it all up and piped in subliminal messages to us yuglee Americans.
This seems unlikely, since it’s unnecessary: bad actors on the world stage have an automatic audience in Washington and need only persuade them. This requires no spectrum space at all.
While this “transition” is ostensibly a done deal, not everyone is thus persuaded:
[T]here are way too many people who still own analog TVs. My dad is one of them. He’s using a TV that I bought him back when I worked at LZ Premiums back in the 1980s. He’d like to get a new HD TV, but he comes from a generation that doesn’t throw things away just because a better one comes along. Not to mention that his house isn’t setup for a big screen. Oh, and older people vote, and vote more often than younger people. He also has a lot more resources than my generation does resources that can go into getting heard. But, you try taking away analog TV from people like my dad and you watch the political uproar.
My own thinking:
- I’m fine with the transition date. I have only two television sets, one of which is already set up to receive digital signals. (Okay, there are a couple of portables lying around, but neither of them gets any use as a television set: one of them is an emergency box with lights and radio and siren built in, and the other has been sitting in the garage as long as I’ve had a garage.)
- The government is salivating at the thought of snagging $30 billion or so from auctioning off all this spectrum; at some point it will be pitched as a deficit-reduction measure.
- Too many of the Usual Suspects will be bidding on this space; I think there should be a segment reserved maybe 18 or 24 MHz, three or four channels’ worth open to the public for whatever uses may occur to it and not subject to endless FCC rulemaking.
About the only thing that is certain is that they’re not going to turn the whole damn thing over to Google.