Scott Hardie | October 22, 2005
Don't you hate being told what to do in your own living room? In case you haven't heard, the television industry has been lobbying the FCC for years to make high-definition mandatory, because broadcasting in both HD and analog is expensive (boo hoo). The FCC withdrew the original date and waffled for while, but now it's official: As of April 7, 2009, there will be no more analog television broadcasts. You may as well invest in an expensive new set and throw out the old one, since you won't be watching anything on it that isn't pre-recorded on an obsolete device. Congress will be spending $3 billion to help consumers buy converters so they can watch HD broadcasts on their old sets (another great use of my tax dollars), but somehow that plan doesn't sound feasible to me. What are they going to do, mail coupons to everyone in America? If HD is the right technology, the market will take us there in due time. Besides, why are we bailing out the TV industry anyway? It's not like they're in dire financial straits or like they provide a necessary commodity, either of which can be said of airlines. I hope there's some aspect of this mandatory revolution to which I'm completely oblivious, because as it is, it stinks.

Probably fueling my fire on this subject is how thoroughly unimpressed I am with actual HD TVs. I'm a guy; I should get weak in the knees when I walk into Circuit City and see them on glorious display. But the truth is, to my eyes they look barely more clear than a finely-tuned new analog TV, and I've spent hours (not at Circuit City) watching them hoping to notice any significant improvement. Am I wrong about this?

Jackie Mason | October 22, 2005
[hidden by request]

Kris Weberg | October 23, 2005
Because, as weird as it sounds, American political philosophy considers "the airwaves" a public resource, and thus OK to to socially subsidize; but your body is private property, and the government's job is not to subsidize the efficiency or upkeep of private property.

Amy Austin | October 26, 2005
Funny thing, we now have a nice 46" wide-screen capable of HD reception... but Ed thinks that the cable company purposely makes their regular analog service seem even crappier so that we'll pay for the HD service (we weren't even aware that it cost more when we bought the TV!) -- so we don't! Heh...

Like Scott, though, I could never tell the difference at the store -- all the TVs look good there. They must pay kickbacks to the cable company, though, because you can sure as hell tell the difference at home... we now have 46" of TV reception that looks like it came through "bunny ears"! ;-DDD

(I'm not sure if there really is a CATV conspiracy... all I'm sayin' is that our HDTV is probably crying inside.)

Denise Sawicki | October 26, 2005
I've got an ancient TV, the internal speaker doesn't work and my dad hooked up a speaker on the outside with bright orange wires, it looks like a junior high physics experiment, and the magnets from the speaker screw up the colors on the screen. It's fine by me I guess. We're not so picky about sound or video quality here, even though we're huge music fans... Good thing I didn't buy a new one all those times people told me how much my TV sucks because the new one would have been out of date soon enough anyway. :-)

Amy Austin | October 27, 2005
Heheh... yeah, most computers and TVs were like that on the ship because of the deGaussing coils -- depending on how old your equipment was and where you worked, some were worse than others. I knew a guy whose computer monitor was a permanent technicolor swirl... no matter how many times you'd degauss the screen, it would get back the way it was within seconds -- what a nuisance!

Denise Sawicki | October 27, 2005
Scott, you've seen my TV but I was so busy getting married that I can't remember if you were properly appalled. :P I know Eric has told me it should be in a landfill somewhere. I swear I don't even notice it being bad. Darrell's grandma has one with a truly bad picture so dark you can barely see it, but mine is fine by me.

Scott Hardie | October 28, 2005
I screwed up: It's not a mandatory conversion to high definition, it's a mandatory conversion to digital. Still expensive and still unnecessary, but my facts weren't straight.

Lori Lancaster | October 28, 2005
[hidden by request]

Amy Austin | October 28, 2005
Just had a visit from my cable guy, and he briefly mentioned this. Yes, it is digital, and as he stated, they can broadcast 12 digital channels in the same space as one analog. I don't think this will necessarily make TVs obsolete... just the cable-ready features -- you'll just need the converter for all channels, not only those above 78 (or whatever the range is). (TV obsolescence wasn't part of our discussion, but it just makes sense to me, based on what was said about the converter.)

As you pointed out, the issue was digital, not HD... therefore, it's a cable-industry issue, not the TV industry, as you also mentioned earlier. I guess the subsidy will be for converter boxes, which aren't usually purchased by the consumer (unless you use satellite), but rented. So, this is technically a cable-industry bailout -- not TV -- and should be quite feasible for the cable industry to implement. As for those with satellite services, well...

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