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post #1 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Broadcast Engineering - Beyond The Headlines
6/25/07

Several powerful members of Congress say the FCC should be doing more to educate the public about the DTV transition. The FCC says that's the job of another government agency; and, if Congress cares so much about DTV, where's the money?

Congressional leaders, led by Reps. John Dingell, D-MI and Edward Markey, D-MA, think the analog shutoff is a public disaster waiting to happen.

They warn that most consumers are not aware of the transition to digital television and will be caught off guard after over-the-air analog signals are turned off Feb. 17, 2009. They place much of the blame for the lack of preparedness on FCC chairman Kevin Martin.

Martin responded that it was Congress that chose the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Commerce Department, to handle DTV public education and to administer a coupon program to help analog viewers get low-cost digital conversion boxes.

Congress explicitly gave NTIA the responsibility for both the coupon box program as well as consumer education about the digital transition generally, Martin wrote the congressmen.

But Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Markey, head of its Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, think otherwise. It is the commission that has primary responsibility among federal agencies for the overall digital television transition to lead in consumer education about the transition, they argued in a recent letter.

Martin also suggested to House members that if they want the FCC to increase consumer awareness, they should allocate more money for the purpose. To the extent that Congress wishes to provide us with funds exceeding the $1.5 million we requested for consumer education efforts, we would welcome such an increase, Martin wrote.

Dingell and Markey cried foul, saying that it was Martin who requested far too little money for the job because he gave it such a low priority.

The National Journal reported last week that Martin is circulating proposed rules that would enable the agency to use its existing authority to boost DTV education.

The proposal reflects several ideas suggested by the lawmakers, such as requiring cable and satellite providers to include DTV advisories in bills; requiring broadcasters to update the agency about educational efforts; requiring set manufacturers to include notices in equipment packaging; and mandating that retailers conduct employee training.

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post #2 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 05:44 AM
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This is so ridiculous that it's past the point of being funny. I'm usually the first one to jump on the pile when its in regards to bash Martin, but he seems to be right here. I can't say that I know what responsibilities were given to the NTIA and such, but these two congressmen are just plain misguided.

If they wanted the FCC to handle the public awareness side of it, then fine. Give Martin the monies required for the effort. If not, then just back off.

Some of the suggestions attributed to the "lawmakers" seem illogical. Here's an example ... "requiring cable and satellite providers to include DTV advisories in bills" WTF?!?!?!?!?!? Now how would printing an advisory on a cable/satellite bill increase public awareness for OTA users????? Last I checked, OTA-only users didn't get a bill from Comcast (although I hear that Comcast is working on that).

How about this gem, "mandating that retailers conduct employee training"? Hmm, last I checked, most brick/mortar retailers do very little product training for any of their employees. Sure, they all know how to enter their ID numbers and work the register, but asking them to compare a couple of the products in their area will cause a brain explosion.

I have a suggestion on how to "get the word" out about the DTV transition. Maybe the politician should be forced to run a 15 second advisory at the end (or beginning) of every campaign commercial. Every TV viewer would be fully DTV educated after about 2 weeks during campaign season.

ft
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post #3 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 06:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ftaok View Post

This is so ridiculous that it's past the point of being funny. I'm usually the first one to jump on the pile when its in regards to bash Martin

No -- I'm the first one to jump on the pile when it is time to bash Martin.

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but he seems to be right here. I can't say that I know what responsibilities were given to the NTIA and such, but these two congressmen are just plain misguided.

Absolutely. Let's save our criticisms for Martin for the truly bone-headed things he does/says/supports.
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post #4 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 06:50 AM
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This is so ridiculous that it's past the point of being funny.

What's even more ridiculous is that after talking about this transition for over ten years that it's necessary to spend one plugged nickel on consumer education. A sad commentary on just how ignorant and helpless our society has become. A waste of time and money even discussing it.

Floor stack the set top boxes near the cash register at every Walmart, Best Buy, Safeway, etc. with a sign explaining in third grade English (and Spanish) what they're for and be done with it!!!!
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post #5 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 07:37 AM
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They run PSAs OTA all the time, don't they? For things like reading to kids, and not abusing your family... How about some PSAs reminding analog OTA viewers that such signals will terminate in early 2009, and solutions will be readily available?

If ignorance were bliss, prozac sales would plummet...

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post #6 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by posg View Post

What's even more ridiculous is that after talking about this transition for over ten years that it's necessary to spend one plugged nickel on consumer education. A sad commentary on just how ignorant and helpless our society has become. A waste of time and money even discussing it.

Floor stack the set top boxes near the cash register at every Walmart, Best Buy, Safeway, etc. with a sign explaining in third grade English (and Spanish) what they're for and be done with it!!!!

Exactly! The problem I have with this current contretemps is the identity of its purveyors, Congressmen Dingell and Markey. If there are two politicians with less credibility, I don't know who they could be. These guys stand for the propositions that there should be no such thing as personal responsibility and that big government always knows best.

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post #7 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 08:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by posg View Post

What's even more ridiculous is that after talking about this transition for over ten years that it's necessary to spend one plugged nickel on consumer education. A sad commentary on just how ignorant and helpless our society has become. A waste of time and money even discussing it.

Let's be fair. Television is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If you want to rail about how ignorant and helpless our society has become, focus on something important, like the war, the economy, control over decisions regarding one's own body, etc. Those are things for which I would have an expectation that the general public would have a working knowledge.
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post #8 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Let's be fair. Television is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If you want to rail about how ignorant and helpless our society has become, focus on something important, like the war, the economy, control over decisions regarding one's own body, etc. Those are things for which I would have an expectation that the general public would have a working knowledge.

Be careful with that statement around here. Many AVSers would rank cable/satellite TV above indoor plumbing, AC, diet cola and sliced bread.
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post #9 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Let's be fair. Television is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If you want to rail about how ignorant and helpless our society has become, focus on something important, like the war, the economy, control over decisions regarding one's own body, etc. Those are things for which I would have an expectation that the general public would have a working knowledge.

I agree, TV is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things but am less confident that the American public has a "working knowledge" of many important issues. H.L. Mencken may have been right when he said, There's no underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

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post #10 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 10:04 AM
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Maybe if they ran a 30 second notice at the beginning of the crap shows that pass for television, the masses would be informed in a week.
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post #11 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ftaok View Post

I have a suggestion on how to "get the word" out about the DTV transition. Maybe the politician should be forced to run a 15 second advisory at the end (or beginning) of every campaign commercial. Every TV viewer would be fully DTV educated after about 2 weeks during campaign season.

ft

No, only allow political ads to appear on digital channels. Then you'll see how fast everyone gets educated and how fast those set-top boxes get distributed.
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post #12 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 11:22 AM
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No, only allow political ads to appear on digital channels. Then you'll see how fast everyone gets educated and how fast those set-top boxes get distributed.

Now that's what I call "thinking outside the box".

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post #13 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 11:38 AM
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Just be greatfull that close to 70% of Americans receive their television over cable and this won't effect them.

For the ones that will be effected, they must start running PSAs during primetime shows about a year before. The converter boxes must be available widely priced ~$25 or it will be a disaster.

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post #14 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:23 PM
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I work in a sears electronics dept. We already have signage warning of the transition posted all over the dept, and whenever we ring up a tv the system screen tells us to advise customers of the transition.

Now that the tuner mandate has filtered down to 13" sets the only tvs we have that don't have digital tuners are a very few leftover closeout models which will be gone long before 02/09. Set prices for the 20" & 13" CRT type SDTVS have jumped $50 or so due to the addition of digital tuners. Most have included both ATSC and QAM but several cheaper sets don't have QAM.

I make it a point to ask all my customers what their tv signal source is. The majority (60%) are using cable without a box, the rest except for a tiny 5% or so are on cable with a box or satellite.

An interesting side note is that the mfgs of vcr/dvd combo units, vcr/dvd recorder combo units, and dvd recorders are dealing with the transition by not including tuners at all (Panasonic is the exception) rather than raise prices by including digital tuners. No effort was made to educate the staff about this, and I guess the "line-in-recording-only" prominenently printed on the box didn't arouse suspicion among many of my colleagues as we are getting a lot of returns on these. If we stacked up digital stbs at the checkout I guarantee we'd have half the staff selling them to satellite subscribers or as magical boxes that turn any tv into HD.

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post #15 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:49 PM
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I work in a sears electronics dept. We already have signage warning of the transition posted all over the dept, and whenever we ring up a tv the system screen tells us to advise customers of the transition.

Now that the tuner mandate has filtered down to 13" sets the only tvs we have that don't have digital tuners are a very few leftover closeout models which will be gone long before 02/09. Set prices for the 20" & 13" have jumped $50 or so due to the inclusion of digital tuners, some brands have ATSC & QAM but the real cheapies are ATSC only.

I make it a point to ask all my customers what their tv signal source is. The majority (60%) are using cable without a box, the rest except for a tiny 5% or so are on cable with a box or satellite.

An interesting side note is that the mfgs of vcr/dvd combo units, vcr/dvd recorder combo units, and dvd recorders are dealing with the transition by not including tuners at all (Panasonic is the exception) rather than raise prices by including digital tuners. No effort was made to educate the staff about this, and I guess the "line-in-recording-only" prominenently printed on the box didn't arouse suspicion among many of my colleagues as we are getting a lot of returns on these. If we stacked up digital stbs at the checkout I guarantee we'd have half the staff selling them to satellite subscribers or as magical boxes that turn any tv into HD.

CircuitCity (and I'm sure BestBuy) is also doing this on their website. When shopping for a new TV for my daughter recently, I noticed that all sub-$400 sets in their online inventory that did not include a dig tuner (mostly all CRT tube sets) had warning messages next to the price info (smart place to put it, actually) stating the lack of a dig tuner and what that will mean in '09.

The word is getting out, but PSAs would be a good supporting move.

Wasn't the govt. considering some sort of subsidized dig tuner program for low-income folks prior to the switch? Of course, this would likely end up being a massive clusterf**k, so maybe PSAs and warning stickers are the better route.

I think Steve is right, though. Existing analog TV retail stock will be long gone by '09. The switch is really going to be an issue with existing pre/non-dig sets already in use.

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post #16 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:50 PM
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I truly wonder if these bureaucrats and politicians even remember why this transition is so important. Even McCain who was so adamant about speeding up the transition isn't making much noise on the issue anymore.

I am totally unsympathetic to the uninformed minority that will wake up with no Wheel of Fortune one day.
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post #17 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:51 PM
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With most people having Cable or Satellite, what 2-17-09 really means is....

"Most people will STILL just have analog TV." Boy! What a "Digital TV Transition" we had.

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post #18 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 12:55 PM
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I truly wonder if these bureaucrats and politicians even remember why this transition is so important. Even McCain who was so adamant about speeding up the transition isn't making much noise on the issue anymore.

Too busy trying to secure the nomination to concern himself with such matters. His campaign ads will be fully visible in the analog realm thru Election Day '08.

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I am totally unsympathetic to the uninformed minority that will wake up with no Wheel of Fortune one day.

Or reality TV.

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post #19 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 02:06 PM
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CircuitCity (and I'm sure BestBuy) is also doing this on their website. When shopping for a new TV for my daughter recently, I noticed that all sub-$400 sets in their online inventory that did not include a dig tuner (mostly all CRT tube sets) had warning messages next to the price info (smart place to put it, actually) stating the lack of a dig tuner and what that will mean in '09.

The notices are actually required under a new FCC rule which went into effect in late May. A "consumer alert" has to be posted either on or near any analog-only TV, either in stores or on websites, warning that they won't work after 2-17-09 unless tethered to cable, satellite, a VCR, a DVD, or a game machine. Several companies -- including Amazon, Buy.com and Sears -- have already received citations, though nobody's been fined ... yet.

I haven't been to my local Best Buy lately (there's WAY too much temptation in there), but I did notice my local Wal-Mart has the warnings up on the dwindling number of analog-only TVs there.

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post #20 of 389 Old 06-26-2007, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve S View Post

An interesting side note is that the mfgs of vcr/dvd combo units, vcr/dvd recorder combo units, and dvd recorders are dealing with the transition by not including tuners at all (Panasonic is the exception) rather than raise prices by including digital tuners. No effort was made to educate the staff about this, and I guess the "line-in-recording-only" prominenently printed on the box didn't arouse suspicion among many of my colleagues as we are getting a lot of returns on these. If we stacked up digital stbs at the checkout I guarantee we'd have half the staff selling them to satellite subscribers or as magical boxes that turn any tv into HD.

Yeah, I've noticed that as well -- one model says "external tuner box required." But I am seeing some WITH the tuners as well. They'll convert the signal to SDTV, of course, for legacy sets. Heck, if you don't want to wait for the government check, you can switch to DT now with one of those for less than an analog VCR cost a decade or so ago.

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Can't the Government run some "public service" commercials between now & Feb. 09' to educate the masses with the $40,000 of my annual income that is being forcibly redistributed?

Where is the southern border fence?

We need to free up those emergency analog broadcast channels because Rome is Burning, The Barbarians are at the Gate & al-Quada has a "dirty bomb," courtesy of Iran, coming to a city near you.
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post #22 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 05:25 AM
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Be careful with that statement around here. Many AVSers would rank cable/satellite TV above indoor plumbing, AC, diet cola and sliced bread.

While that is true, it is probably also true that every AVS member has already prepared for analog shutoff.

However, we are part of the problem. WE are discussing it in a forum dedicated to HDTV programming. Duh. Maybe the discussion should be in the catchall forum that includes analog programming (which I only learned about by following a moved message, looked around, said, "this ain't Kansas.")
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post #23 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 05:41 AM
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Several powerful members of Congress say the FCC should be doing more to educate the public about the DTV transition. The FCC says that's the job of another government agency; and, if Congress cares so much about DTV, where's the money?

Congressional leaders, led by Reps. John Dingell, D-MI and Edward Markey, D-MA, think the analog shutoff is a public disaster waiting to happen.

Typical partisian politics. You have 2 Dem's haranging a Republican. Reps Dingall and Markey have become cartoonish in recent years by how NOTHING in this transition is going to suit them, no matter what happens. It is because of this "wolf crying" Feb 17, 2009 will stand. No one wants to redredge this back up. And Reps Dingall and Markey need to remember that it takes BOTH houses of Congress and the President to make a change to the date now and with Immigration, Iraq War and the War on Republicans, no one has time to revisit this issue before the date. No one WANTS to revisit the date. But when in Congress, ANY ink is good ink.

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post #24 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 07:57 AM
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Typical partisian politics. You have 2 Dem's haranging a Republican. Reps Dingall and Markey have become cartoonish in recent years by how NOTHING in this transition is going to suit them, no matter what happens. It is because of this "wolf crying" Feb 17, 2009 will stand. No one wants to redredge this back up. And Reps Dingall and Markey need to remember that it takes BOTH houses of Congress and the President to make a change to the date now and with Immigration, Iraq War and the War on Republicans, no one has time to revisit this issue before the date. No one WANTS to revisit the date. But when in Congress, ANY ink is good ink.

Quite right. In politics, the reputation of the advocate is at least as important as the position being advocated and, with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich, no member of congress has less credibility than either Dingell or Markey. The Boy who Cried Wolf, and all that.

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post #25 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 12:34 PM
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The silver lining is that this is free publicity for the cutoff. The more important questions are the details of the STB subsidy. As for educating the public, I think they should use Paris Hilton as she has good rapport with the mindless.
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post #26 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 12:41 PM
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My grandfather said this to me yesterday when I told him I'd get him a digital converter box for his TV.

"Excuse me, perhaps I'm dense, but why is it that I would have to PAY to get a box to recieve signals from the airwaves THAT I ALREADY OWN."

My response was that the FCC is going to have everything transmitted digitally. To which he said:

"Then the FCC needs to give me that box."

Of course what bothers him the most is that we all suckered into paying for televsion at all. After all we already own the frequencies they use on OTA, cable and Sat
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post #27 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 12:48 PM
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Then your reply should be "But the FCC didn't buy your TV for you."
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post #28 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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And, "You don't own the airwaves; the American people own the airwaves, and they've decided that you have to pay to get a box to receive signals from them."
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post #29 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostsoldier View Post

"Excuse me, perhaps I'm dense, but why is it that I would have to PAY to get a box to recieve signals from the airwaves THAT I ALREADY OWN."

No one owes your grandfather or any of the rest of us any viewable television programming. If he wants to see such programming, he must buy a television set--agreed? That TV must be equipped for viewing the content.

The entitlement mentality will ultimately doom this great country. What a shame some elected officials perpetuate it for their own gain. I could fix that problem with two simple words: Term Limits.

A.L.a.E.o.t.U.S., as proven 3/21 - never forget.
Defend liberty.
Knowledge isn't Truth; it's just mindless agreement.
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post #30 of 389 Old 06-27-2007, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAM4UK View Post

The entitlement mentality will ultimately doom this great country

Unless it's for large corporations.
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