Digital conversion should take place on schedule

Monday, January 12, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama, who in his present position still has the luxury of being all things to all people, is asking Congress to delay the Feb. 17 transition from analog to digital television.

Congress should ignore the call.

Digital conversion ads are almost as common as ads to buy your old gold jewelry, and have been for months. Anyone who hasn't yet gotten the word that old over-the-air broadcasting is going the way of the 8-track tape still won't be ready in the three or four months congressional leaders are considering.

According to the Nielsen Co., about 6.8 percent of Americans, or 7.7 million homes, are not yet ready for the switch, but we doubt the rate is that high in our region -- many already subscribe to satellite services or cable, which are unaffected by the digital switch.

The program that provided two $40 coupons toward digital converter boxes for each household has run out of money, and consumers who just now apply for the coupons are being put on a waiting list.

Digital television is a technology that arrived just in time. Consumers who may be needing to pinch a penny now have an opportunity to receive more channels of sharp, clear television -- even some in high definition -- at no cost to them.

In McCook, we should be able to receive most networks -- NBC, ABC, Fox, the CW (CBS is "iffy") -- as well as three Nebraska public television channels.

That's a pretty good basic package, for free. It's a good deal, even if you do have to pay the full price of the digital converter out of your own pocket.

Allowing the old analog signals to go dark will give behind-the-times viewers the nudge they need to enter the 21st century.

The digital conversion should take place as scheduled.

For more information, check out the following sites: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Welcome.aspx



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