Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Analog to Digital to... Analog?

Tomorrow afternoon, the firm deadline will be set for when all TV stations must stop broadcasting analog signals, and then broadcast only digital signals.

There are a few proposals for the government to subsidize set-top conversion boxes for the folks who can't or won't buy digital sets.

At first, I thought this was a stupid idea, till I read where the money would come from. Part of the transition to digital transmission will allow the feds to auction off a lot of the broadcast spectrum to communications firms who are champing at the bit to use it.

Personally, because I'm cheap, and because my lovely wife Rowan and I only watch one or two shows of broadcast TV per week, I think the government ought to pay the full price for the conversion box I will need. As I understand it, the digital broadcasts are wonderful if you can receive them. However, if you live in the hinterlands of Maine as I do, where even the few channels that can be received are often snowy or affected by other interference, poor reception becomes no reception. Digital receivers won't pass along poor image to the screen: they just "give up" and give you a blue screen. This is known as the "Digital Cliff." I guess I'll be diving over it sometime between 2006 and 2009.



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