Digital Transition Looms, but Do Americans Have a Right to TV?

Digital Transition Looms, but Do Americans Have a Right to TV?

The huge information campaign and an incentive program are casting American taxpayers up to $1.5 billion. And it's illuminating to put the government's $1.5 billion allocation in perspective. Consider: The proposed 2009 federal budget for adult basic and literacy education is $574.6 million. The Rural Development program has approved 85 loans totaling $1.68 billion since 2002 to help fund broadband infrastructure rollout in underserved areas. Is nationwide availability of speedy Wikipedia queries as important as delivering Ryan Seacrest digitally to your living room?

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All full-power TV stations have been required to broadcast DTV for a few years now. There is pretty much no reason to wait until February 2009 to get a box. The boxes are already usable in the US today. If someone is an area served predominantly by low-power stations then there is probably nothing to worry about as those regions typically only get television via cable or satellite anyhow and are taken care of that way.

Of course those programs built up infrastructure as cited. That is looking too closely at the federal budget. The funds to pay for the coupon program came out of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the component agency of the Department of Commerce that cover radio frequency assignments and the like for federal agencies while the FCC covers everybody else. The other programs are funded by different agencies that get funded by different appropriations bills. There are 14 appropriations bills annually and different lawmakers take differing levels of interest in each.

Is the distribution of funds uneven? Yes. The bad thing is that this switch-over should already have happened. Due to a rider in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 the original kick-off in 2005 was delayed until 2009. More time was secured yet where has that gotten us?

As for those who think there will be another delay, I can only express my doubts. The DTV switch-over actually brings you more in many cases than you had before without having to get cable or satellite service. One station in the Las Vegas metro maximizing the transmission standard is KLVX, the PBS affiliate, which has multiplexed on its signal three streams of programming. The local Fox affiliate, KVVU, has a live weather/traffic feed running as part of multiplexing on its signal. NBC affiliates normally have a weather service running on a secondary stream in their signal.

Analog TV is not going to come back. How much did Verizon Wireless just pay to the feds for that spectrum? Do you really think the feds want to refund that much cash due to the switchover becoming delayed or aborted?
Stephen Kellat, Host, LISTen

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