Surely, if you’re breathing and have watched any amount of TV in the last few months, you know that your over-the-air TV ain’t gonna work next February unless you take some steps. I got my “government cheese” digital TV conversion coupon a few months ago. Now instead of watching through periods of slight static, the show I’m watching is replaced momentarily by a completely dark screen with the words “searching for signal” on it. We’re on the cutting edge.
(Don’t get me started about the fact that I now have to hit 4 or 5 buttons to change channels — one of which is a decimal point that is located in the most un-ergonomic place on the remote.)
Our local stations have beat it into the ground with badly produced promos that run incessantly. In fact, every time the “digital conversion is coming in February of 2009. Will you be ready?” promo comes on, my three-year-old son says “we’re ready”. Because he knows the new box on top of the TV is what the promo is talking about.
So I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s so bloody simple that a 3-year-old can understand it. But, perhaps you’ve noticed in your daily life that there are some people walking around who aren’t this bright.
There are groups who are criticizing the government’s publicity efforts and are asking for more money to publicize the switch. And that’s insane. While it has been a typical bureaucratic fiasco, the message has been pushed about as far as a marketing campaign can go.
Plus there’s a good reason that the switch won’t be as painful as the detractors say it will be. The local TV stations aren’t going to let the little old ladies watching The Price Is Right disappear — because those little old ladies also love the dollar they get from Neilsen to fill out a diary. And in general, the local stations will correct the problem and bring all the stragglers of all ages on board for self-preservation economic reasons.
But some of the points addressed in the article make sense: Why is there an expiration for the coupons? I nearly let my 90 day window pass by and used it a few days before it expired. Government handouts shouldn’t expire! And it is hard to find the boxes now. I can imagine they’ll be very hard to find next February. And some people like the little old lady in the NYT story are just plain stubborn and won’t change until they’re forced to. (like in Cuba, she says.)