Bye-bye, TV

There’s a good article over at MSNBC about the end of analog TV. There’s a deadline of New Year’s Eve, 2006 for air TV to be cut off and replaced with digital, but no one knows when it will really happen. There are definite benefits to doing it soon, but there are also problems with cutting off air TV.

Here’s one part I found particularly amusing:

The real problem is the 15 million or so U.S. households whose only television service comes over the air. For these people, predominately lower-income and disproportionately black and Hispanic, the cut-off will be bad news indeed.

Most discussions in Washington contemplate some sort of free or subsidized converters for low-income households, paid for by the government, perhaps with the help of broadcasters or consumer electronics manufacturers. Estimates for the costs of that subsidy range from under one to several billion dollars — the cost declining as the cut-off date is moved further into the future. Proponents argue that the cost of the subsidy is small compared to the economic benefits, although last year the Bush administration indicated it was not in favor of subsidized converters.

Priorities! These people may not have decent education opportunities, or even healthy food options, but damned if we’re going to deprive them of television! So I suppose TV needs to be added to the list of basic human rights.

Be sure to check out page 3, “Why not put it off indefinitely?” There are some great things that could be done with the air channels once they’re freed up, including wireless Internet for everyone, more channels for public safety services, plus an auction of the remaining channels that could help pad the governent budget. (Hey, maybe they could use the auction money to ensure that poor people will still have television.)