The writer’s strike of 2007-2008 gave just a hint of what a world without television would look like-very few if any scripted dramas with a lot of reality television and news shows. However, this lonely time for television viewers will pale in comparison to a hundred channels completely free of network content. On February 17, 2009, all full-power television will be digitally broadcast by order of the FCC, Federal Communications Commission. This means that all new television sets (specifically as of March 1, 2007) that can receive signals must include a digital or HDTV tuner for broadcasts. This is because all of American television will be switching over exclusively to digital transmission, from a current in-between state of digital and analog format. This event will affect all television sets in America, including pocket sized TV’s. This means that as of 2009 you will no longer be able to watch “free” television on a regular analog set without at least a converter box.
This is the type of technological progress that would make TV icon Archie Bunker rant, “Those Were the Days.” The advent of digital transmission in 2009 may prove to be even bigger triumph for new age technology than when major video stores started replacing VHS tapes with DVDs in 2002-2003. Since all TV stations will be switching off analog signals, this means that households that get television broadcasts only over the airwaves will be without TV reception. Newer television sets, especially larger sets that are rectangular or use the term DTV, are equipped to receive digital transmission.
You can bet this change will cause a sudden boom in the number of cable or satellite television subscribers, since their service will not be affected. This will be because the majority of ex-analog TV viewers (estimated at about 13 million) are expected to subscribe to a new service rather than hook up a converter box or buy a new age DTV system.
The Federal Communications Commission began this slow but sure switch many years ago in an effort to free up a large portion of U.S. airwaves, which will eventually be auctioned off for a variety of other services, such as wireless companies and public safety systems. The Nielson Company announced that over 16% of the entire U.S. television viewing audience would lose at least one television in their household. This is why government forces have instituted a new program that will see the delivery of converter box coupons to any U.S. household that requests them. Every requesting household will be entitled to two $40.00 coupons, making the switch over to digital broadcasting content practically free. Furthermore, all new manufactured television sets (produced as of March 1st) are now required to have digital tuners.
While there are plenty of options available for the average consumer still desperately seeking new episodes of American Idol, CSI and The Office, industry experts predict most Americans would sooner sign up for something new than go through a moderate hassle to keep what they already have. Though many TV viewers may prefer the course of least resistance, if the course of additional commitment includes hundreds of new channels with 24-7 sports, cartoons, foreign shows and adult entertainment (in addition to the regular fall lineup) who can afford to be an analog couch potato?