I’m sure I won’t qualify, but it’s great to see that someone’s ready to take the bull by the horns when it comes to moving to HDTV/digital TV. Uncle Sam Wants Your Airwaves. Note that it’ll take a couple of weeks before I can point you to an appropriate URL, but I can try to explain now why this is so funny to me. Basically, I wrote the following letter to the editor in response to this editorial in a recent Design News
To Chief Editor, Design News:
It seems to me that there’s an easy way out of the problem my wife set in her recent editorial. Rather than forcing HDTV tuners on the 85% of the public that relies upon cable anyway, why not simply have the federal government buy cable service for the 15% of us who rightly perceive these companies as the “devil’s spawn?”
Not only would this accelerate the transition to HDTV (thereby freeing up analog TV spectrum for government auction, more than offsetting the cost of the subscriptions), but there’s the endless satisfaction of watching the cable companies struggle to collect their fees from a bureaucracy even less concerned about customer satisfaction than they.
Until then, I expect that NetFlix will be the only route to HBO in the Field household!
Now, see this from the Wired News article:
The legislation — pointedly named the Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act [ed. note – S.2820], or just the Save Lives Act — sets a new deadline of Jan. 1, 2009, for the federal government to free up the analog TV spectrum for use by public-safety agencies.
The bill also would clear the way for auctioning spectrum to commercial interests — like wireless broadband service providers.
And in a nod to subsidy programs in Europe, the legislation would provide $1 billion to help 17.4 million U.S. households without cable, satellite or digital TV tuners pay for equipment that would enable them to go digital.
[…] Despite the potential backlash, lawmakers are starting to support the idea of a hard deadline that forces consumers off analog. Low-income households would get first priority under the subsidy program contemplated by McCain, but it’s unclear how broadly the program would apply to everyone else.
Some support the subsidy concept. “Every successful rollout of digital (over-the-air TV) has come with a free box,” said Kaufhold. “The model for digital TV in the world has been to give people a free box. The U.S. is starting to fall behind.”
According to the bill’s text, the subsidy would amount to a small portion of the $30 billion to $70 billion the federal government expects to collect when it auctions off large portions of the analog TV spectrum to wireless companies. (Other estimates, however, have been much smaller.)