Washington (DC) – President Obama is now working with Congress to draft his first legislation. As citizens we’ll get to see how his campaign will come together be transformed into what everyone hopes is a reality. Our Nation has so much going on, what with the war in Iraq and an extremely troubled economy, but what will be one of the first items on his list? It is the technology of our society.
First, Obama will tackle the broadband subsidies in the stimulus package and then the potential delay to the DTV switch. Obama’s presidential campaign was centered around a technology focus, and all early indications are he hasn’t wavered (see TG Daily’s coverage of the major technology and social overhauls given to www.whitehouse.gov, including videos, blogs and a new comments section).
The switch to digital television is impending, and the Obama administration wants to delay the date from February 17 to June 12, nearly four months out (115 days).
Congress’s argument is that many Americans who receive their television signal via the air have yet to purchase either new digital televisions or the converter boxes required to continue viewing broadcasts after the transition. Analog TVs without a digital box will see only snow and static.
Obama feels the government has let down many Americans who have been counting on the $40 coupons to make up for the money they had to pay for their converter box. Congress did not reserve enough funds for that program, so as of today about two million individuals who have requested coupons haven’t yet received them.
Obama’s policy marks a type of “meet in the middle approach” as it corrects the problems the delay creates, but without going further. Everyone would only have to wait four months for the switch, rather than the full year that was being speculated.
Verizon is now in support of the shorter delay. Several cable companies have also reported hiring additional temporary staff in preparation for the digital switch. If the date is delayed, those plans may also be affected. Any delay in the digital TV switch also means a delay in faster wireless broadband (see TG Daily’s coverage).
It seems to me that by extending the date, lazy individuals are being enabled. This switch has been a long time coming, and there is no reason why anyone with a TV should be left with no signal on February 17 as the TV itself has been showing test after test, alerting and preparing individuals for the switch. And if they are, then let it be the motivation needed for these individuals to head down their local electronics store and purchase the converter box.
To be fair, cell phone companies purchased these digital airwaves last year and shouldn’t be forced to wait and push back product releases just because my grandmother wasn’t aware that she was going to lose Days of Our Lives” if she didn’t buy a converter box from Radio Shack or Best Buy.