Skip to comments.Separation of Television and State
Posted on 02/17/2009 9:20:38 AM PST by GSWarrior
President Obama signed a bipartisan bill on February 11 decreeing that analog television will remain until June. If you were unaware of the national conversion to digital TV, youre not alone. Backers of the delay feared that 20 million mostly poor, elderly, or rural households were unprepared for the conversion, reports Reuters.
Nevertheless, by next week 681 stations will have abandoned analog, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC might even forbid stations from meeting the very deadline originally set by the government.
In 2005, Bush signed the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act, setting the deadline for this February and appropriating $1.5 billion for digital-to-analog converter vouchers. Consumers would redeem the coupons at retailers certified by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
But Scott Wallstein of the Technology Policy Institute concludes that these vouchers have created a floor on the price on the converters. Certified retailers have no incentive to charge less than $40, the value of the coupons. Analyzing retail prices nationwide, Wallstein estimates that the vouchers have increased the price of converter boxes by $21$34.
Moreover, the vouchers were first-come, first-served. They boosted converter sales but failed to prepare enough Americans for the original deadline. Many had never heard the news.
Coercive regulation supposedly enables large-scale coordination where the market would fail. But this national television conversion scheme reveals the limits of central planning.
Wilmington, North Carolina, was the guinea pig, going off analog last September. The FCC got 1,800 calls for assistance, including from hundreds who followed the instructions but got no signal. On a national scale this would spell chaos.
Denvers mountainous terrain poses severe interference problems. Buffalos major stations use a high-power analog signal to cover large areas; after the switch many rural viewers would lose all broadcast programming. Digital signals have trouble reaching urban buildings and remote rural areas alike. A weak analog signal means a fuzzy picture. A weak digital signal means no picture or a flashing image. The stations and telecom companies have scrambled to adjust to the national timetable.
Most stations and viewers are ready. After investing in the conversion, some resent the delay. Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) protested, [N]o matter when you set the dateFeb. 17, June 12, July the Fourth, Valentines Daythere are going to be some people that arent ready.
Universal digital television is a national priority, but any central plan will leave millions behind. Under FCC airwaves regulation, big players thrive and smaller competitors struggle. CBS, NBC, and ABC can easily continue broadcasting analog, while smaller networks can hardly afford obeying the capricious dictates of the FCC and Congress.
Why is the government involved anyway? Why not a more organic and regional transition?
The FCC grew out of the Federal Radio Commission created in 1927. Allegedly, the market had allocated airwaves poorly. In fact, a system based on property rights and homesteading already worked and was upheld in a 1926 Illinois case, Tribune Co. v. Oak Leaves Broadcasting Station.
In the 1920s, Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover arbitrarily withheld broadcasting licenses. He was rebuffed in United States v. Zenith Radio Corps. He responded by assigning licenses indiscriminatelya classic tragedy of the commons, as economist Thomas Hazlett noted. Whereas the common-law allocation of spectrum worked, federal intervention created the radio chaos that supposedly warranted a new regulatory agency.
The FCC became a political tool, entrenching favored networks, punishing small ones, and censoring dissent. The agency propped up AT&Ts phone monopoly for many years, obstructed the rise of cable, and kept cell phones off the market for a decade.
With television going digital, federal regulators lose their classic rationalethe need to control limited spectrum. But dont expect the feds to step away. What fails to serve consumers can still benefit politicians, regulators, and connected industry leaders.
In the Internet age, a national plan for universal digital TV is a clumsy anachronism. High picture quality, consumer availability, and liberty would be better served by a separation of television and state.
The answer is sat tv. The MSM stations are all gonna be dead anyway in a year or two - unless, of course, they are bailed out by the loon and his loon-a-ticks. (Yup, misspelled ticks...but it looks nice....)
Has anybody invented a “magic jack” for tv yet?
They have to take care of this so they can continue to brainwash the masses.
I don’t quite get why the feds are so worried about people getting TV reception. Aren’t we in the middle of economic crisis? Are we not trying to squash corporate greed?
If some little station stops its analog signal then so what. If any station stops it analog signal then so what. When the power goes out at your house it the first thing you grab the remote?
Why? Why? Why are we so worried about this crap. For the price this conversion has cost the tax payer we could have all bought new flat screens with the required digital reception built right in.
I have satellite TV so no worries.
If you pay to watch tv, you fund the MSM regardless if you are watching it.
Congress (and lobbyists) fight efforts to break up the required “packages” to pay for JUST the channels you want.
WB-Viacomm-Disney likes you to subsidize their channels even when you “boycott” them.
The only valid boycott is to not send them money every month.
But I will add that rural viewers aren’t watching broadcast signals anyway (unless they get only 1 or 2 channels with weak signals).
The emperor is a celebrity who was packaged as Pepsi and sold to the public with a slogan of HOPE and CHANGE. If you are deprived of the drug of tv, you will see through the deception (and may turn to radio).
“I dont quite get why the feds are so worried about people getting TV reception. Arent we in the middle of economic crisis? Are we not trying to squash corporate greed?”
I’ve been wondering about that. The people who have only network TV (no cable etc) seem to be the ones who will get the free coupons. Since CBS, NBC, ABC are all in Obama’s back pocket, perhaps they want to insure it stays that way. If they don’t have their news propaganda, people might turn on talk radio...heaven forbid....can’t have that!
There, fixed that.
>>If you were unaware of the national conversion to digital TV, youre not alone. <<
Because you live under a rock.
There has been a bazillion commercials about this.
Big Brother will mandate morning exercise. They can’t watch you if you can’t get any reception.
when they came for my family I didn't do nothing
when they came for my rabbit ears.....
My TV doesn’t even get off-air... the only thing it’s connected to is the DVD player, the PS2, and sometimes my computer.
There, fixed that for you.
The main reason is that they had to contract the crews and equipment to make the changes months in advance. Not an easy task due to the fact that every TV station in the country had to do it at about the same time.
With Obama's change to June, they could either cancel the work, break the contracts and kiss the money goodbye (and then have to wait for re-scheduling the job).
Many of the stations that completed the switch today really didn't have much choice unless they were very wealthy or (or a unit of PBS with a big fat tax-payer wallet laying open for them).
Alas, these same uninformed people vote too.
Analog, digital...and our rookie “powerhitter” with a few weeks in the Senate driving the powerful Yankees to oblivion as he “DIALOGS” balls and strikes....wait does he have any ba....? Uh oh, I can’t with for Spring Training or the WBC if I’m using baseball analogies regarding TV...would Palestine vs Israel be like the Roadrunner Show in real life?
Television transmission type should have been left to the free market to decide, not government. Government intervention was not needed to push most listeners from AM to FM preferences.