Archive for June, 2009

Why people (including me) aren’t ready for today’s “DTV Switch”

June 12, 2009

This started out as a comment to this article on Techdirt, but it got so long, I decided it deserved to be it’s own blog post.

Here in Oregon about 40% of people still used solely terrestrial TV prior to the push for DTV switch (haven’t seen any numbers on how many people fell for the cable / satellite providers propaganda that they are the way to switch to digital.)  Sat. coverage is much worse than on the East coast and there are still many areas (even in cities) where you either can’t get cable or have to pay to have the cable brought for blocks or miles to your house.  I live in your average built in the 40’s type city/suburban neighborhood.  I know we didn’t HAVE cable in our neighborhood when I moved in ~5 years ago and was pricing cable internet vs DSL.  They’d bring it in, but forget the “free installation by 5 o’clock today!” offers…

If the FTC and local stations had actually cared about people converting, they would have put build your own Hoverman antenna shows on (like, oh, Make TV did), not the endless crawlers and shows about how to buy an antenna.  90% of the people I know who still have only broadcast TV have the supplies in their home to build a simple Hoverman antenna variation and know someone who could have helped them with it if they couldn’t do it themselves.  Most of them don’t have $50 for a commercial antenna plus someone to install it in their attic.

The reality though is that the test environment – and even the supposedly real environment here today in Portland Oregon, a reasonably large TV market, on the first day of “Digital Only” broadcast TV DOES NOT MATCH the actual long term production broadcast environment.  That doesn’t start til tomorrow.  So should you throw money at a problem that might be fixed (or fixable for less) when the real environment comes on line?  Or wait?  When the penalty is that you might have to listen to the radio, read the paper, or use the internet for a few days to get your news and entertainment, clearly waiting for the real environment is a big win!

I got a converter box over a year ago when they first became inexpensively available and we actually had stations broadcasting.  Even with a powered antenna booster, the only digital station I could reliably get was the local 24 hour weather station – if I put the antenna in a location where I got no analog stations.  (Of course, in the middle of the night, I had digital stations, but I’m generally more interested in sleeping than watching TV at 3 am.)  At that point I’d spent as much as I was willing to on TV, so I figured I’d watch the analog stations ’til they disappeared then switch to etc for all my TV viewing. 

Apparently our ABC affiliate is switching to the UHF spectrum on 6/13 and since I find their news reasonably useful/entertaining (and my husband is going into TV withdrawal), I figure I’ll give the converter box/antenna another try when they do that.  If that fails, then I’ll probably salvage parts from my rabbit ears and junk in my garage to build this.  But if I have to spend money every month, give me more general purpose internet bandwidth, not TV!

See also Which Gray-Hoverman TV Antenna Should I Build

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