Come next Feb. 17, we predict, thousands of Americans will wake up to discover their televisions don’t work. And they will demand answers.
But the answers have been coming for months with a blitz of public service announcements that analog television signals will be gone and digital signals will take their place.
The government and broadcasters can’t be faulted if some Americans don’t get the message. Some folks just don’t get messages, which is why a state trust fund spends millions of dollars to help people quit smoking even though we’ve all been told that tobacco is addictive and deadly. Or why some people will stay on the coast when a hurricane is approaching.
Digital TV offers more choices for viewers who don’t have cable or satellite services. Most stations are already offering multiple choices - some have at least six. This means a single station can offer more programming options than the entire spectrum of local stations could offer 50 years ago.
For those who haven’t gotten the message, analog TVs will work only if a converter box is attached. The boxes will cost at least $40, but coupons are being offered that would make the box effectively free.
Those who are hooked up to cable or a satellite dish won’t have to do anything except figure out why they must pay so much for so many choices and find so little of interest to watch. But that’s another message for another time.
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