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A Few Bits to End the Year

December 30, 2007

Slow week. Hope everyone has been having a good holiday.

I expect a lot of people watched that footbal game on Saturday night, simulcast on three networks in high-definition. (CBS, NBC, and the NFL network) I'm betting many of those people who saw it in HD at a friend's house will be motivated to go out and buy an HDTV before the Superbowl (what day is that?).

TV manufacturers and retailers love it!

While flipping back and forth among the network morning shows during the last couple of days, I came upon the mention by one of the CBS Early Show hosts that they would be in different digs for the next couple of weeks while their regular studio was being redone.

I haven't looked into this but I'm hoping that means CBS is finally getting around to converting their morning broadcasts to high-definition. ABC and NBC have been there for quite a while.

Addendum: After doing a brief web search on this, I found an article about a recent Early Show piece on HDTVs. Because host Harry Smith and their expert were throwing out so much incorrect information about the transition and HDTV technology, it seems unlikely the CBS team has been giving much thought to the subject. My guess is they're not ready to switch to HD.

Another article I found reported on a rash of defections from the production, including co-host Hannah Storm. Some disarray there, it would seem.

I was browsing through YouTube to see what HDTV gems were there and found these two:

The first is a news piece from a Chicago TV station about the transition. Included was a cautionary message about analog TVs still being offered to an unsuspecting public. Click on the picture to link to the video.

In a lighter vein is an educational piece by a small indie channel in Utah. Certainly more creative and entertaining than what we're starting to see from big mainstream commercial broadcasters.

And finally, while checking the FCC's DTV dockets for recent activity, I came upon a new consumer complaint submitted using the simplified "brief comment" format. It was in the "Consumer Education Initiative" docket:

"Please wait and do not change to DTV until later, like 2015.

"I understand the advantage to going digital for TV, but you are affecting millions of people who do not have (or want) cable and enjoy their TV as it is. It sounds like this change will lead to the wasting of good TVs passing along the expense to the consumer.

"Furthermore, since most/all DTVs are made overseas this will only increase the already troubling trade deficit.

"Thank you."

It wasn't the only angry consumer comment. Considering the difficulty and trouble it took this woman to navigate the FCC's web site and discover how to send a comment, it's likely her sentiments are indicative of an ocean swell of frustration in the country.

And it's all misguided, because the transition is not the burden she thinks it is. We have the cable industry, once again, to thank for their $200 million marketing campaign aimed at misleading the TV viewing public. You don't really have to subscibe to cable to keep your TV from going dark.

The broadcast industry is compounding the problem by delaying their education campaign until they are ready with their own upgraded digital facilities (under the guise of waiting for converter boxes to be in stores--it's always something).

And the government has been sitting on its hands, caving to industry lobbyists and petty politics.

It's why I dropped out. (take a deep breath)

Until next week . . .

So far the IBM-administered converter-box-coupon request site has linked to the NTIA's DTV site. I'm assuming first thing on January 1 I'll be able to request my coupons. And then wait.