Fail: Giant Metaphor For Digital TV Transition Performs As Expected

The Federal Communications Commission and its benevolent overlord, Mr. Kevin Martin, recently spent $350,000 to sponsor a NASCAR team for 3 races. The “Digital TV Transition Ford” sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission crashed during its inaugural NASCAR race Sunday afternoon, says the WSJ.

This is, of course, raising some questions about why exactly the government is sponsoring NASCAR teams as a way of “raising awareness.”

“I believe this sponsorship is an extremely effective way for the FCC to raise DTV awareness among people of all ages and income levels across the United States who loyally follow one of the most popular sports in America,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement last week, announcing the deal.

The WSJ says they’ve also spent $1 million advertising in AARP magazine.

FCC’s Race Car to Promote Digital TV Hits the Wall [WSJ]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Skipweasel says:

    As far as I can tell, digital telly is intended to free up frequency space to allow more channels so we can have even more thrilling stuff to watch than we already have.
    As someone who’s watched telly in England go from very good to bloody awful since the introduction of multichannel, I’m not impressed.

    More channels just means the jam is spread more thinly. The amount of watchable content hasn’t increased at all. I now watch far less telly than I did a few years ago ‘cos it’s all just such tosh.

    • B says:

      @Skipweasel: I disagree. The proliferation of multiple channels in the states allows the broadcast of wonderful stuff like Mad Men, Pushing Daisies or Lost, along with a proliferation of horrible choices. The trick is finding those good shows, which never would made it on the air or found enough of an audience to last.

      • EricLecarde says:

        @B: I also disagree. Before digital, I had roughly 6 channels. Now with digital I have access to 20 different channels. The only downside to them really is that its hard to tune into some of the channels and I have to really fight with the antennae to get a signal. When it storms, the picture pixilates and sometimes I lose signal altogether. Kinda like having satelite.

        • MosesKabob says:

          @EricLecarde: I find it weird that my digital signal can degrade to nothing depending on how my wife and/or I are positioned in the room. My wife watches TV while on the computer, not a problem. She props her feet up on the DVD cabinet, no signal within 5 seconds. Other examples abound, and moving the antenna doesn’t seem to work. But having said that, I enjoy more channels than I did before, and they come in crystal-clear (except as aforementioned), so that’s something good.

          • terminalboredom says:

            @MosesKabob:

            OK, whew. I thought it was just my set.

            I can literally move an arm on my couch cushion and go from perfect reception to none.

          • Traveshamockery says:

            @MosesKabob: Digital signal is either perfect, or gone. It’s called the “Digital Cliff Effect”, and it’s the same reason that with one bar on your cellphone, reception is perfect, but with zero bars, it’s totally gone.

            Digital doesn’t degrade gracefully. While analog just gets fuzzier, digital is perfect, then BAM it’s gone.

            So if moving your arm is breaking your signal, you probably need a better antenna or a better tuner to get you away from that cliff edge.

      • Joeyjojo says:

        @B:

        You can get Mad Men over the air!?

      • nybiker says:

        @B: I’ve never watched PD or Lost as their descriptions just didn’t appeal to me. But the folks at American MOVIE Classics forgot what got them started so they decided to chop up movies with commercials. As a result, regardless of what they push, I don’t watch ‘em.
        And somewhat OT, I still say have critics see a show the way us regular folks see ‘em (that is with all the commercials and on-screen logos and text and pop-ups) and then tell me that they will sit through the 30 or 60 minutes to enjoy the 20 or 40 minutes of content. Once they do that, then I’ll be inclined to at least give a show a chance. Until then, I takes my chances by recording a show and then watching it to see if I like it. That’s why Life On Mars is no longer on my watch list this season. 2 episodes and it’s gone. Of course, the breaks every 5 (yeah, 5) minutes didn’t help its cause.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @Skipweasel: Actually, the real reason is somewhat far from consumer benefit.

      One of the biggest failings in the Hurricane Katrina fiasco was the inability for officials and rescue teams to communicate effectively. Cell towers were knocked out, or the networks were overloaded. Radio transmissions encountered trouble due to interference from all the chatter, and other reasons.

      By freeing up part of the wireless radio spectrum that is currently gobbled up by analog television, the government hopes to create dedicated, cheap, and effective emergency channels to utilize in times of national crisis.

      There is a slight consumer, and possibly industrial, benefit to this transition. Digital television promises to offer superior picture and sound. This also frees up the bandwidth for use in the broadband wireless wars currently raging.

      • B says:

        @blackmage439: Wait, isn’t this the spectrum that was auctioned off last year, the one that Google and others bid on? I thought it was going to be used for new communication devices.

        • Darklighter says:

          @B: Some of the reclaimed spectrum was reserved for public use.

        • ivanthemute says:

          @B: Actually, both. The spectrum which is beeing freed is nominally the 37mHz to 550mHz range. A portion was sold off to expand available wireless services, but the lower range (IIRC, please correct me if wrong) between 37mHz and 400mHz is being reserved for governmental/civil/emergency use.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @blackmage439: There is a slight consumer, and possibly industrial, benefit to this transition. Digital television promises to offer superior picture and sound. This also frees up the bandwidth for use in the broadband wireless wars currently raging.

        Yes, namely that if you want to keep watching tv, you have to purchase a $50 box to make it work or pay the cable conglomerates to get cable.
        Also, the government is selling off some of that spectrum to the wireless companies so they can rape us with their exorbitant fees even more. YAY!

    • mcjake says:

      @Skipweasel: Dude, I’m impressed by your ability to type with a British accent.

    • dvdchris says:

      @Skipweasel: More channels in my market has meant a 24 hr weather channel, a food channel, and a ‘retro’ TV network that plays old shows as an alternative to modern programming. All on free over the air TV.
      A little taste of what cable offers, on free TV. Not a bad thing.

    • sponica says:

      @Skipweasel: Yeah I recently bought my converter and while I get better reception of the big 3 + Fox + UPN/WB or whatever it is these days + MyTV, I don’t get PBS anymore, and the “extra” channels of NBC and ABC are filled with nothing but paid programming or 24 hour weather. If the extra channels were like the old independent channels (e.g. rebroadcasting old syndicated TV shows) or broadcast on a lag from the main channel (like having a west coast feed) it might be worth it.

  2. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    I see these ads all the time. And I have for a long time. If somebody doesn’t get the picture yet, they can figure it out themselves come February. No need to dump more money into ads.

  3. markscottmusic.com says:

    That’s interesting what Kevin Martin believes about the sponsorship. I believe this sponsorship is an extremely effective way for the FCC honchos to get some sweet perks like meet-and-greets with the drivers, suite tickets, free food and invitations to parties with sports stars and celebrities. I’m involved in sports marketing and that’s what a lot of it is about — getting nerdy execs close to the stars they admire for photo ops — all on someone else’s dime and with ‘branding to loyal audiences’ as the justification.

    • jdhuck says:

      @markscottmusic.com: From experience I can say $350,000 for sponsorship is not much.

    • nybiker says:

      @markscottmusic.com: And ‘sports marketing’ is why I cut off my nose to spite my face (and sponsors too) by not purchasing products / services from companies that waste my money for things like car race titles and other such nonsense.

      And when it comes to my taxes being used for that purpose, well, nobody asked me if they could do it.

      If he wants to advertise something let him buy 30 seconds on a tv show (oh, let’s see, maybe an ad during the car race?). But then he only 30 seconds not the minutes of ‘free’ advertising he gets when people watch a car go ’round ‘n ’round the track. But wait, it crashed, oh well. Maybe the 30 seconds would have been a better deal.

      Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

      • HFC says:

        @nybiker: If the problem is with tax money paying for this kind of crap, why am I not seeing complaints about the Army car?

        • nybiker says:

          @HFC: Since I don’t watch racing at all, I don’t notice all the ‘proud sponsors’ but thank you for pointing it out. Count me in as against that car as well. I only get to see a car when for a reason other than racing it’s in the news (like when they come to nyc to ride around times square. Like we need more traffic in that area!).
          In general my complaint is against naming rights and sponsorships for the sake of publicity. Does every piece of information I am shown (or forced to see) have to have a proud sponsor attached to it? Why is “This call to the bullpen is brought to you by AT&T” needed? Just go to the bloody commmercial and be done with it. Why is a box score or offensive lineup brought to us by a beer company? Just show the line-ups. Do I care that whatever beer company is the official sponsor of the NFL? No. If I am going to buy a beer, it’s not because they advertise during the game. It’s because I like the beer’s taste (imagine that – buying something because you like it, not because some celebrity shilled for it).

    • SeanMacATL says:

      @markscottmusic.com: @markscottmusic.com: I think it’s a pretty smart move on the FCC’s part to use a race to push the digital TV switchover message. The viewers of races are typically rural and don’t have the best access to cable, and thus will be disproportionally affected by the switch. Tie that in to the market research which shows race viewers are among the most fanatical supporters in sports and will buy or support any product that supports the race and/or driver, and you’ve got a home run delivery of the message.

  4. theblackdog says:

    2 years ago I bought a TV that had both an analog and a digital tuner in it, so now these ads are starting to get annoying.

    • BullLifter says:

      @theblackdog: So did I. However my new (free) Tivo does not have a digital tuner, so I either have to figure a wiring configuration to loop it out from my TV or get one of those boxes so I can still injoy Tivo-liciousness.

      • FightOnTrojans says:

        @BullLifter: I don’t know if that will be possible, unless you just use your Tivo as a VCR (without the channel changing aspects). I have a regular DirectTV box plugged into mine, so it’s ok. That’s the only option I could think of.

  5. KyleOrton says:

    I’m glad they’re advertising in AARP, but this proves that my grandmother doesn’t read it. She still believes it’s a plot by Islamic Spaniards to unmake Presbyterianism the official religion of Iowa.

  6. goodywitch says:

    The funny thing is that they are advertising the digital conversion on the digital stations. Huh?

    I agree with skipweasel, way less watchable programs on tv now. PBS is constantly begging for money, yet they’re putting out more stations. Why?

    Oh, yea, and the death of the sitcom. I like the comedies, stop being so darn edgy. That’s why people are watching less tv.

    • scoosdad says:

      @goodywitch:

      The funny thing is that they are advertising the digital conversion on the digital stations.

      Yes, but by default. The digital stations are simulcasting what their analog counterparts are broadcasting, so those ads are going out on the analog channels as well.

    • ThickSkinned says:

      @goodywitch: What was the last network sitcom that was ‘edgy’? I can only think of one, and that is It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. And that’s on FX. And damn funny.

      I thought the problem with network sitcoms was they weren’t edgy enough. The time has passed for shows like Everybody Loves Raymond. Bring on Everybody Loves Meth. It could be a sitcom version of Spun. On this week’s episode, Chef cooks up a fresh batch and the tweekers fight over who gets the first hit. Hilarity ensues. If you’ve ever seen tweekers go nuts, you know just how amusing this show would be.

    • Joeyjojo says:

      @goodywitch: We cancelled cable now that we have a digital TV.

      The picture is nicer, but in terms of the extra channels, we only really benefited from PBS.

      So, I’m fine giving them more money, as they are the only ones that seem to be actually delivering more content.

      The networks around here are pretty much just broadcasting HDTV on one digital channel and the same show via 480 on the other. What’s the point of that?

  7. econobiker says:

    I will love getting more infomercials and paid programing in digital clarity!!!

  8. jdmba says:

    I have a TV which will never ever ever ever be hooked up to Cable, and bought one of those DTV boxes. I will tell you that I am pretty happy to go from barely getting 3 channels on rabbit ears to getting about 30 (Los Angeles)

  9. Triborough says:

    Digital television is just more government mandated crap that was brought about with payoffs by corporate interests who stand to make a mint off of the spectrum.

    • mikedt says:

      @Triborough: And our government. The analog spectrum that is being taken back from the TV networks is going to be diced up and sold for BILLIONS of dollars. All of which goes back into the government general fund and into earmarks so our honorable elected officials can buy their office again. On our dime. This isn’t being done for the benefit or consumers at all.

      And the reason for all the adverts is that our elected officials realize that a dead TV is the one thing that will move a lethargic American off his/her ass to vote against their representative.

  10. Elhigh says:

    Hell’s bells does this mean my TVs gonna smack into the wall and catch fire?!

    • shufflemoomin says:

      @Elhigh: If it doesn’t, it’ll at least go round and round in a circle until you get bored and go off and watch something else.

  11. scroggzilla raids again says:

    hmmn……advertising TV’s technological “leap forward” on the most technologically regressive form of motorsport in the world….BRILLIANT!

    • SynMonger says:

      @SCROGGS!: Technologically regressive? Wut? Might want to check that again, auto racing is on the leading edge of a lot of technology. Things like leading edge metallurgy for lighter engines/frames/skin, aerodynamics, chemical composition of the tires. The list goes on and on.

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Man, the government sure is scared it’s citizens can’t watch TV after February 17. Maybe it everyone pulled themselves away from the boob tube they’d wake up and see what a disaster our elected officials turned our dear countr–

    – oh, look, America’s Funniest Home Videos. Ha ha ha! Look at that chihuahua! It bit him in the butt!

  13. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Fail?

    Fail?

    I don’t think you understand what that word means. But silly me, I don’t go to CNN for poop jokes, I shouldn’t go to Consumerist for accurate sports reporting.

    Considering that the only time people pay attention to the mid-to-rear of the pack that late in the race is when an accident happens, especially since that accident helped set up the green&white checkered finish to the race, they got exposure for the car.

    They are getting free advertising for the car right now.

    The issue at hand is being exposed.

    No, this is not a fail at all.

    • admiral_stabbin says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: I’m still going to CNN for my poop jokes, although, I do admit they’re getting harder to find on the homepage.

      I do agree with you that this isn’t failed advertising.

      Unnecessary? You betcha!
      Weak? It’s worse than pal’n around with dem terrorists.
      Message penetration? The best you could ask for.

  14. laserjobs says:

    KILL YOUR TELEVISION!!!

    I am going on 5 years without a TV and love it. My spending decreased, attention span increased and find more things in life rewarding.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @laserjobs: As long as The Office is on TV, I’m going to keep watching.

    • johnnya2 says:

      @laserjobs: Why would I want to do that. If you truly have gone five years without television you missed debates between John Kerry and George W. The Obama/ McCain debates, the Super Bowl for 5 years, all sporting events. The other thing I find ironic about people who have this hoier than thou attitude about television is, how would you have any clue about what is good or bad on it if you do not see it. its like telling somebody a movie is bad, but never having seen it.

    • kenboy says:

      @laserjobs: Congratulations on your superiority.

    • LandofMinos, Prediction, probability of procuring a poncy Prius for purchase. Piss off! says:

      @laserjobs: Do you think that the internet will one day kill TV all together? It’d be nice wouldn’t it?

      @johnnya2: You can still see all that shit on the internet.

      @kenboy: I think laserjobs has a point about attention span. So yes he is superior in every way. No bow down you filthy square eyed pleb!

      • HFC says:

        @LandofMinos,Top Gear Australia getting better, only 1 out o…: Why is watching TV programs online any better than watching it on a TV? The reason for not watching TV is because of the content, not because of the device.

        • LandofMinos, Prediction, probability of procuring a poncy Prius for purchase. Piss off! says:

          @HFC: Watching TV programming online has it’s advantages…

          -You can watch whenever you want.

          -You can watch nearly whatever you want. Even if it hasn’t aired for years. Mash anyone? No? OK, Mash sucks then.

          -Commercial break running times are not comparable to the actual show running times. That’s more of an Australian problem where our commercial free to air networks have frequent commercial breaks that can run longer than 5 minutes, We feel ripped off so that’s one big reason a lot of Australians are pirates, arrrr.

          Disadvantages to online viewing…

          -You’re essentially paying for the downloads so, it’s not exactly free.

          -Video and sound quality is often poorer than TV.

          -If streaming video, cookies may be recording viewing habits. For commercial reasons of course.

  15. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I think this would have been “ironic” – and closer to “FAIL” – if the DLP-sponsored or Dish Network-sponsored car took out the #38.

    • nybiker says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: +1. I think there’s also (or is it instead of Dish?) a DirecTV car. But as I don’t watch it any car ‘racing’, I don’t know for sure. I just seem to recall seeing some picture of it at some point.

  16. MyPetFly says:

    Interesting picture, see Boing Boing (if a plug is allowed here?)

    Video

  17. khiltd says:

    They’re just trying to avoid a situation where drunken hillbillies take to the streets with rifles.

  18. prag says:

    Ugh. So, what, we should wait until every single person in the country is ready to switch over before we pull the trigger? DTV has been on the air for 10 years. It’s time to move on…

  19. meechybee says:

    For the same amount of money, couldn’t they have given away the converter boxes, say, at the post office?

    Does anyone know if radios that receive TV audio will still work?

    • BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

      @meechybee: Nope, the TV audio will not work. It’s on the VHF frequency which is going bye-bye.

      • scoosdad says:

        @BloggyMcBlogBlog: That’s not exactly true. The audio goes away because those radios were designed to pick up analog audio transmissions only. The new audio goes out digitally.

        Also, there is a common misconception that the VHF channels are going away after Feb. 2009. That’s also not true. After the transition, every VHF channel from 2 through 13 will have at least two digital TV stations somewhere in the country using it, and on most of the UHF channels up through 51, which is the new uppermost channel.

        Some stations that are now using a UHF channels for their digital signal may only be doing that temporarily and have elected to move back to their VHF channel assignment after Feb. 2009. One reason is that it takes far less power to push a signal out at VHF frequencies than on UHF, to go the same distance. Digital channel 7 (NBC in Boston), for example, will move back to 7 next year. Don’t toss those VHF rooftop antennas yet!

        • tobashadow says:

          @scoosdad: Actually your wrong.

          The Audio will also be digital instead of analog FM band audio. Even tho it will be on the same channel it will sound like a computer modem if it is transmitted using Frequency Modulation (FM) method. Otherwise you will hear nothing on a radio that is designed to receive said digital tv audio. Which currently there are none on the market.

          • meechybee says:

            @tobashadow: OK, here’s what Wikipedia says. I guess I’m screwed.

            [en.wikipedia.org]
            Impact on existing analog technology
            …Portable radios that are able to listen to television audio on VHF channels 2-13 would also lose this ability, while television stations which formerly broadcast on Channel 6 (with analog FM audio on 87.75 MHz) would no longer be heard on standard FM broadcast band radios. These stations would lose the ability for commuters to listen to their broadcasts.

            Is it just me, or is this whole plan a HUGE pain in the ass. I know I’m a very slim minority who even cares about this stuff, but TV-radio has been very useful over the years. This makes obsolete the TV audio in my undercabinet kitchen radio, shower radio, and portable TV-radio. The latter one was very important on 9/11 as all other media disappeared one by one.

            I’m glad the FCC made the world safe for a deeper bandwidth spectrum. Let’s hope they don’t give away all the “goods” to their lobbyist friends.

  20. meechybee says:

    Oh, and by the way, fuck the FCC.

  21. darkryd says:

    It’s official. The Government thinks everyone in America is a NASCAR watching blue collar guy named Joe “the Plumber” Sixpack.

    C’mon, seriously? Not everyone in this country talks with a twang in their voice and wears coveralls.

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @darkryd: I live in the shadow of New York City, born and raised here, and I have a college degree. And I watch Nascar. And so does my brother.

      Sorry. It gets ratings. Would you rather have advertising on something like Golf or Tennis, which doesn’t pull ratings?

  22. altryan says:

    Our tax dollars at work.

  23. Justafan says:

    As an avid follower of NA$CAR I must say that if the car doesn’t run up front the best way to get TV time is to crash it. Once crashed the cameras are all on your car and all the announcers are saying the driver and sponsor names. Although this only lasts until they drag away the newly junked car and clean up the track.

  24. henrygates says:

    Because people who are still using rabbit ears are also people who watch Nascar?

  25. FuzzyPlushroom says:

    At least they know their target market.

  26. Justafan says:

    It doesn’t matter how the government tries to get the information across it’s going to be a major clusterfuck come 02/17/09.

    There will be such an outcry from the less technologically inclined that I predict a new government subsidy wherein everyone can walk into Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, etc, and walk out with a free DTV compliments of Uncle Sam, I mean the taxpayer.

    If we can bail out Wall Street surely we can give everyone a new TV.

  27. pschroeter says:

    Absolutely no one is talking about how the transition will effect any of the VCRs in my house. I assume they all will stop working because they don’t have digital tuners. Will they work with the converter boxes I can buy. Can I tape one channel while watching another?

    • scoosdad says:

      @pschroeter: Yes the converter boxes, if placed in front of a VCR’s analog tuner, should work. You’ll need to pre-tune the VCR’s converter box ahead of time to the channel you want to record, and then program the VCR to record during that time period on the converter’s TV channel output, such as channel 3, instead of the actual channel number you want to record.

      And if you want to set the VCR to record multiple programs on different channels while you’re away on vacation, for example, I don’t believe any of the converters will give you the ability to program them to change channels while you’re away. At least the ones I bought won’t do that.

      • scoosdad says:

        @scoosdad: …and to tape one channel while watching a different one, you’ll need two converter boxes. One for the VCR and a different one for the TV you’re watching. Put a two-way splitter on your incoming antenna wire and feed the two boxes from the splitter, rather than daisy-chaining the antenna through the VCR first and then to the TV like you might have now. If you leave it daisy-chained, you’ll end up seeing the program you’re recording on the VCR and not something different.

  28. Swizzler121 says:

    I think they are doing all this not for evil, but for good. They have been trying to switch to all digital since the mid-90′s but the cable companies always pulled a Fear Uncertainty & Doubt campaign before it got big. Now that its a Government mandate to switch, they sponsor these events to gain power so the cable company doesn’t shoot down the switch again.

    If it were up to the cable and phone companies, we would still be watching black and white tv with rotary phones.

    • YadonBullfinch says:

      @Swizzler121: I think the cable companies would love to go all digital. It’s the millions of whiners out there with “cable-ready” tvs that would stop working that make them stay analog. Death to analog!

    • silver-bolt says:

      @Swizzler121: Cable is excluded from the digital switch (or are already on digital). Only OTA TV stations are forced to go digital.

  29. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    Why hasn’t anyone written an article stating this is going to a train-wreck compared to the paranoia associated with Y2K?

    • scoosdad says:

      @BiZarRroBALlmeR: Because Wilmington NC has already completely switched over early as an FCC-blessed experiment to see what would happen. Apparently not much did. The world did not come to an end, and phone lines did not explode with calls.

  30. opsomath says:

    What an outstanding waste of tax money. Seriously, the entire universe has been oversaturated with ads covering this switch now…considering that the businesses being affected are MEDIA, you’d think a few PSAs cutting in over current programming would take care of it.

  31. Pious_Augustus says:

    Problem is the baby boomer generation and the self proclaimed Greatest Generation don’t get it they never do.

    Believe me in Feb there will be a huge backlash they just dont want to piss of the generation that actually goes out and votes

  32. LandofMinos, Prediction, probability of procuring a poncy Prius for purchase. Piss off! says:

    In Australia, we switched on digital TV back in 2000 before the start of the Sydney Olympdicks.
    It was touted as “the new age of television, a vast improvement of old, So good that in 2008, we’re gonna switch off the analogue service, so you better update soon”.

    Come 2008, the big switch-off never happened. The government pushed it back to 2012, why? Because…

    A. Not enough people have bought DTV equipment.
    B. Not enough manufacturers selling DTV equipment.
    C. Digital broadcasting’s inherent shortcomings, which I give an example…

    Last week I finally updated my antenna to a digital antenna to suit the digital set top box (DTV converter) that I bought a couple of years ago, because the analogue signal was always a bit ghosty. “Finally” I thought “I don’t have to watch glitchy DTV anymore, yay”. AU$110 the antenna cost and specially tuned for DTV frequencies in Sydney, so it must work, right?

    Well no it didn’t work. Actually it’s worse now, but first, let me go into detail about where I live. I live in an inner-city suburb of Sydney on the south-side. TV both anal & digi are broadcast from towers on the lower north shore area of Sydney. Between me and the the towers is Sydney itself with it’s skyscrapers messing with the signal.

    On top of that I have two abandoned factories nearby to mess with the signal even more, one out my front door and another out the back and to the side. Mix that with living between two commercial airliner flight-paths, one the west and one to the east, the airport is about 6 miles away so the planes are pretty low and reflect the TV signal that creates ghosting on analogue and utter chaos on digital.

    So factor in all of the above, and DTV is pretty bad to watch. I miss sentences and one liners, I miss important news details, picture freezes or little square artefacts appear. Add some rain and/or a slight breeze and TV is just plain un-watchable.
    I approached the ACMA (Australia’s FCC) via email to see if they can help me.

    -No answer-. So I asked again, this time saying “given my, locality and ACMA’s lack of help, I’m now resorting to downloading my shows from ‘other’ sources”.
    Keep in mind the ACMA are scared of the rich people who own the TV networks in Oz and they ( the network owners) would hate to have people downloading tv shows without watching the shows on their over-commercialised network, “that’s our advertising revenue going down the drain” they’d bark.

    I got, not only a response but also a phone call from ACMA that day offering instructions and empty wisdoms about setting up a DTV system. All of which is to no avail. ACMA say that there’s not much more they can do to help…

    Well yes they can…

    -They could put in small wattage repeating stations like they have done for small communities in the past.

    -Not switch off analogue until reliable DTV is made available to everybody.

    -Allow Australian citizens to download from other TV networks world-wide.

    But being a bureaucracy, not bloody likely.

  33. Outrun1986 says:

    I love how the FCC says that your TV will not work when the switch to DTV happens, as if your TV will suddenly die and not turn on at all. My television is being used to play video games on which does not require channels, but the way they talk about it they make it sound like its totally going to die so I won’t be able to turn it on at all not even to play video games.

  34. Cary says:

    The digital TV transition is simply a way for the FUC to make billions of dollars selling the valuable low frequencies all over again. Digital TV is transmitted on the higher UHF frequencies which are harder to receive indoors.

    Every previous “upgrade” (color TV, stereo TV) was backward compatible which is why NTSC (never twice same color) sucked – it’s actually a black & white signal with the color information tagged on like electronic toilet paper stuck out of your underwear.

    This is just another scam so Bush’s friends can make money (any bets AT&T, Verizon & Clear Channel get most of the spectrum up for sale?)

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @Cary:

      Well, the auction was last year, so that would be kind of like betting on who won the 2007 World Series, but if you insist.

  35. Meathamper says:

    If only they would use this for free Internet using antennas…

  36. ageshin says:

    The whole dtv event is a money making scam of monumental scope. It forces everyone to by new tvs that cost more and don’t work as well as the old ones if you want to get the over the air signal. The freed up signal space will be used to make money for the big boys, at our expense. Remember the signals are owned by everyone. Ha!! If that were true why is the government selling off the new band width. Analog tv was good enough,and if one wanted to improve the image there were other less intrusive ways for doing it. The whole thing is one of the rip offs of the century!!!

  37. Vastarien202 says:

    I killed my TV almost five years ago, and I couldn’t be happier. I broke the one-eyed Medusa’s hold over me, and reclaimed my real life!

    • OtterOtter says:

      @Vastarien202: So…You’re really bored now, in other words.

      Just kidding :) I recently got rid of cable television as well, more for a cost savings than anything else.

  38. effingroovin says:

    were in an economic crisis…. and were spending $350,000 to sponser fucking nascar? Someone tell me im in the twilight zone and pinch me so i wake up?

  39. SegamanXero says:

    Comcast has been showing digital switch ads here in boston. they basically mention that before the cut off date you have several options to keep your signal. the options they give you are ordering basic cable service, and basic cable service with digital phone service. as for the third option, applying for a converter box coupon to buy a converter box… that was never mentioned in the ad. IMO the ad is deceptive…

  40. shufflemoomin says:

    Isn’t having a billboard that travelled in a circle at 100Mph then burst into flames a poor choice of advertising medium? Logos make sense on racing cars, but something that has a message you’re supposed to read and take in seems bloody pointless. Did they ask him to drive slower so people could read what it said?

  41. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Interesting comment about this being to reach people of “all income levels”

    Just backs up my theory that most NASCAR fans are members of the Fortune 500…where do you think the 500 in the Daytona 500 comes from?

  42. randomizer9 says:

    I, for one am hunkering down for The Great TV Riots of 2009.

  43. GrandizerGo says:

    Ehhh, I have cable, won’t bother me at all…
    And really, unless the major networks start broadcasting their show on 3 different channels spaced 8 hours apart, it really doesn’t mean much to me…
    I can’t understand, or won’t… Why hit shows are shown 1 time, and get preempted by things and pushed so they don’t get recorded properly…
    I would love for say, Sunday night football, runs long, this pushes 60 minutes later and all shows following it…
    At the time that 60 minutes is supposed to start, another of their stations broadcasts it ON TIME…
    Those interested in football, continue to watch, those interested in non sports related issues, can still catch their shows without staying up to all hours…

    BTW, The same thing should be done with presidential debates and presidential announcements…

  44. Karkus says:

    Yeah, the coupons are a stupid concept. Why not just offer an instant discount at checkout ?

    But DTV is GREAT! Sure, some people will only convert once their TV goes blank, but have you ever seen a DTV signal compared to anolog?
    Even on an old TV, the DTV signal+converter box produces a crisp picture, way better than analog and better than cable TV in many cases.

    And all those millions of people who are currently have fancy new widescreeen TV will be even more surprised when they figure out that their old rabbit ears can provide them with FREE signals that are way better quality than cable.

  45. RobinDawes says:

    I bought a couple of converter boxes, after reading and hearing the claims about the availability of digital signals NOW! Nonsense, I get at least 15 channels in english and spanish without the converter box, and about five, with it!