Shed Light on the Coming Analog Darkness
On February 18, 2009, analog (NTSC) broadcast signals will cease, if current legislation holds. No longer will antennas on analog TVs be able to receive analog broadcast signals, because there won’t be any. Those who use a VCR as an analog tuner? That setup will no longer work either.
Customers with cable or satellite service will have solutions via digital-to-analog conversion through their set-top boxes, but not everyone who has cable and satellite has it in every room. Those with anything that receives an off-the-air analog signal will be out of luck in those rooms.
The government is saying, effectively, “Too bad. You need to get an additional device (a converter box) or throw your product away.” The FCC is trying to put a positive spin on this by saying that only 15 percent of households (June 2004 numbers) don’t use cable or satellite and only receive off-air signals. It predicts that by 2009, that number will have dropped to seven percent. What this number doesn’t describe is the number of devices in a consumer’s home that aren’t hooked up to cable or satellite. Many consumers may still be using TVs with an off-air signal in numerous places in their homes.
What’s a consumer to do, and what’s your role? Since there will be no analog signal to pick up, the government says there will be inexpensive set-top boxes to convert digital terrestrial signals to a signal analog TVs can use. What is unknown is how willing consumers will be to add this box to their current setup.
I believe the potential analog “problem” is being underestimated, and many products in use are being overlooked by the statistics. And since the government has only budgeted $5 million for consumer education, the word won’t be out in any great frequency.
Therefore, some providers will become known as the digital TV gurus in their communities. Will this be the cable company? DirectTV? The Geek Squad? Sears? Home Depot? It should be you, so start building a rep now. By becoming the digital TV expert in your area now, you’ll put yourself in a position that will pay dividends in the transitional years to come.