Perspectives on the transition to TV in the US, from analog to digital in 2009

This from CNET this morning… a view on the future of digital TV in the US by Jason Oxman, vice president of communications for the Consumer Electronics Association. This was in rebuttal to a piece by Michael Hulfactor –“When regular TV broadcasts go dark” from early April (sounds like a cable television reality show) — the managing director of DecisionTrend Research, on the transition to digital TV. 

U.S. is ready to move to digital TV
Bumps in the road notwithstanding, the Consumer Electronics Association’s Jason Oxman says transition from analog to digital TV is on schedule.

Between now and February 17, 2009, all new television sets shipped to retailers will include a digital tuner capable of receiving over-the-air digital broadcasts. Cable and satellite households will be equipped by their service provider with everything they need for the transition, so consumers will see no change. And for those over-the-air households who haven’t made the switch, there are plenty of choices and government-industry resources available to make the transition smoothly.

Free over-the-air television, broadcast with crystal-clear digital clarity, will be available to households that wish to receive it after the February 2009 analog shut-off. Consumers who already have a digital television will be able to receive these broadcasts via an antenna, cable or satellite.

Consumers who do not own a digital television, and do not subscribe to a multichannel video provider, can purchase from local retailers an inexpensive (as low as $60) and easy to install digital-to-analog converter box to connect to their analog sets. Even better, the government will have two $40 coupons per household available for these boxes beginning in January 2008 that will bring the cost down to around $20 per box.

This from Michael Hulfactor…

Normally, technology adoption involves a choice between competing solutions in the marketplace, but the federal mandate removes from consumers the power to choose and buy technology. Consumers will not be able to continue receiving free over-the-air broadcasting.

By February 17, 2009, those who wish to continue watching TV will have had to purchase something new, such as a digital-capable TV or a special analog-to-digital conversion box. Or they may abandon the free over-the-air model altogether and buy cable or satellite services. If they don’t, television will go dark for them.

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