Monday, January 26, 2009

Congress Delays DTV Transition Until June 12th

The Senate passed a bill on Monday to delay the nationwide switch to digital TV signals. The transition date would move to June 12 from February 17 under the bill that was fueled by worries that viewers are not technically ready for the congressionally-mandated switch-over.

The delay comes as an estimated 6.5 million U.S. households have yet to make the digital TV transition.

The Senate is expected to vote on the DTV Delay Act next week, the bill will still have to get through the House before a delay becomes official. Under the bill consumers with expired coupons for converter boxes may apply for new coupons. Those coupons originally had an expiration date of 90 days. The bill also extends the deadline to apply for a coupon from March 31 to July 31.

My thoughts:
This delay really misses the bus and fails to solve the fundamental issue at hand. Many of these so called "left behind" aren't uninformed, how could they be, every single channel in my area has hounded viewers for months about the transition. They either don't want or feel the don't need to buy a converter box.

The second issue the delay fails to address is the reported 2.6 million additional coupon requests the NTIA has said they have on a waiting list as of last Wednesday. The $1.3 billion in funding for coupons was depleted earlier this month. As of yet there is no word that they are going to release additional funds. Aside from the current waiting list there are no actual numbers, just estimates, as to how much additional funding might be needed.

I can say from first hand experience, viewing sites like freecycle craigslist and others, that much of the misinformed public has received coupons that they didn't actually need. Almost daily for several weeks I've seen people offering their coupons that they errornously applied for and recieved. So the question remains how many of the more than 11 million outstanding coupons are in the hands of people that don't really need them or aren't actually going to use them. How many of those coupons cover the supposed 6.5 million homes we are delaying the program for.

The goverment can delay the transition all they want, however what is going to make viewers that have put off the transition suddenly act. Short of going door to door there isn't much else the governemt can do to get the word out. No matter how long you postpone it, there are still going to be people who are not ready.

My final though is this:

The NTIA and Nielsen numbers just don't add up. The Jan. 5th NTIA report says, "Nielsen Company reported recently that in January 2008, 14.3 million households rely on TV with an antenna." That same report also says, "More than 24 million households have requested more than 46 million coupons and more than 18 million coupons have been redeemed." Yet the report says "52.5 percent of coupons requested have been redeemed."

52.5% of 42 million is roughly 24 million, so somewhere we are loosing 6 million coupons that according the NTIA's report had been redeemed. According to the stats approximately 21million coupons had actually been redeemed so we can use that number.

According to both Nielsen and Centris Research there are only 14.5 million homes in America that, from my understanding, needed the DTV coupons. That number is estimated as high as 19.6 million. We'll given them the benefit of the doubt and say 20 million homes needed coupons.

Comparing the data we can see that obviously some of these numbers are being misrepresented. That or there is a gross amount of converter boxes that are sitting around in household that really don't need them.

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