Politicians fear fallout from U.S. viewers denied TV
Let me set the scene for you: It is Feburary 17, 2009. Over 20 million U.S. residents gather around their television sets which are hooked up to antennas which are designed to receive free analog television broadcasts.
They turn them on, ready to bask in the warm glow of Fear Factor or Survivor 29: Wamsutter, Wyoming. And they see nothing but static. Panic ensues. Rioting. Nationwide protests. The President is impeached and the U.S. descends into anarchy.
Yes, this is the future according to Senator Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri). Apparently the U.S. will stop broadcasting analog signals in 2009 and only those with digital or satellite receivers will be able to watch television. Senator McCaskill states that “There is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that cannot get television,” and with that sentence sums up everything that is wrong with the United States.
Now, imagine a headline along these lines: “Politicians fear fallout from U.S. citizens: angered over Darfur; angered over war in Iraq; angered over removal of freedoms in the name of ‘war on terror’; angered over failure to take steps to address climate change.” But no, instead we have a Senator who is concerned that politicians will suffer a backlash from constituents who can’t watch Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader or Dancing With the Stars.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubts at all that Americans will be upset. I would in fact be disappointed if U.S. citizens did not rally around this very important issue. I mean, what is an unjust war, world genocide, or catastrophic climate change in comparison to this disaster! Think of what this means: for some people, those poor souls without a digital receiver, they might be forced to converse with their family, take a walk, or read a (gasp!) newspaper. This, in turn, means that a whole segment of the population might become dimly aware that all is not rosy in the U.S., and might even question the political direction of the country.
But who am I kidding…the current U.S. government would never allow the possibility of this revival of consciousness to occur. Fear not, subsidies are on the way. Yes, the government has earmarked a $1.5-billion dollar subsidy (yeah, billion, you saw that right) to provide up to 2 $40 vouchers per household to help defray the cost of getting a new converter box.
Why sink that $1.5-billion into something worthless like education, methods to combat poverty, or something as silly as sustainable resource development when you could continue to placate the masses.
Now I must run, my shows almost on…what was I upset about again?
Check out the full article after the split.
Politicians fear fallout from U.S.
viewers denied TV
$1.5B gov’t plan to help viewers upgrade
to needed digital
In little over a year, more than 20 million U.S. homes that rely on antennas for free analog television broadcasting will suddenly go dark. And Senator Claire McCaskill is already getting nervous.
“There is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that cannot get television,” said the Missouri Democrat.
The U.S. government is gearing up for Feb. 17, 2009, the day when TV stations will stop broadcasting analog signals, and only those with TV sets featuring digital tuners, as well as those with satellite or pay television services or those with special converter boxes, will be able to get television.
In Canada, that day is further in the future, with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission setting an end date for analog signals of Aug. 31, 2011.
U.S. plans include an ambitious $1.5-billion US subsidy program to help the nation’s couch potatoes make the switch with a minimum of effort.
Come January, each U.S. household can apply for two $40 coupons to help buy the necessary converter boxes, which cost about $60 to $70.
It’s a huge undertaking for the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is preparing to distribute 33.5 million coupons.
They’ll start mailing them on Feb. 17, 2008, a year before the transition.
Washington is eager to spread the message to the elderly and to poor people in rural states, who are most likely to be affected.
Some members of Congress have also taken to urging their constituents to buy a new TV as a holiday gift for the digitally out-of-touch special someone in their lives.
Federal officials say they’re ready to go with a massive effort that’ll include advertising at national events such as the Super Bowl, and regional messages aimed at specific media markets.
Members of Congress have been sounding the alarm during public hearings at the Capitol.
“I am really worried about this,” said McCaskill, adding that it’s members of Congress — not federal employees — who’ll get blamed if things go wrong.