The Motion Picture Association of American wants to rent movies to TV viewers earlier in the release window, but they don’t want anyone potentially streaming that video out to other appliances. That’s why last week they went back to the FCC to once again ask for the power to disable analog ports on consumer television sets.
Even after the DTV switch, converter-box drama persists. Reader Bob is concerned that his in-laws were oversold on a converter box for their brand new TV.
Analog television broadcasts end tonight at 11:59 PM. Are you ready? Are you tired of hearing about this yet? If you’ve put off buying a digital converter box, or you want to use the transition as an excuse to buy a shiny new TV, Consumer Reports is here to show you how to choose the awesomest model you can find.
Matthew emailed us with an interesting link to a Meritline offer that he says is making the rounds on deal sites. The Airlink digital-to-analog converter box is a fairly generic offer, but Meritline is offering a free HDMI cable with it. The only problem is, there’s no place on the box to use the cable. If you just see “free HDMI cable” and don’t read the specs closely, you’ll be in for a rotten surprise when the box arrives. But hey, free cable.
The WSJ says that the FCC has sent letters of inquiry to 11 cable companies asking why their customers are paying the same amount each month, even as the companies move channels to digital cable.
Best Buy, Circuit City, and Sears are all contesting the FCC’s recent fines against them for not properly following analog transition rules in their stores, reports Ars Technica. Last week, Best Buy submitted a 41-page response (PDF) that claimed among other things that the FCC has no authority to fine them.
The FCC handed out a whole basketful of fines to electronics retailers today: $1.1 million for Sears and Kmart; $992,000 for Wal-Mart; $712,000 for Circuit City; and amounts between $168,000-384,000 for Target, Best Buy, CompUSA, and Fry’s Electronics. What made Christmas come so early? They were all failing to warn consumers that analog-only TVs and tuners will stop working on their own when the digital switchover comes next year.
Well, at least he’s being honest—Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson announced at CES today that the 2009 switchover from analog to digital television (still a year away) poses “one of the biggest risks our industry has,” whatever that means. “The number of converter boxes that is going to be required could put tremendous pressure on us.” Oh, you mean because you’ll have to have them in stock? Interpretation: if you’re going to need a converter box or two, you’d better plan on buying them elsewhere.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, half of US homes already have digital televisions. If you’re not one of them, you’ve got a year to switch—or make sure you hit up this site next Tuesday to get a coupon for a converter.
“In particular, check phones that are kept around as 911-only phones. Such phones, which don’t have a phone number and aren’t initialized with a carrier, were given out by some donation programs that collected old phones.” Less than 1% of cell phones currently in use are analog, but the article points out that that still counts for over a million devices. Anything less than 5 years old or that can text message isn’t analog.
Cablevision is trying to scare consumers into signing up for basic cable service ahead of the planned transition to digital television. After February 17, 2009, consumers will need a $60 converter box to receive television signals over-the-air. The transition to digital will significantly improve the quality of over-the-air television, but that isn’t stopping Cablevision from funding a scare-mongering campaign to rustle up new business.
CONSUMER ALERT: This television receiver has only an analog broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products. For more information, call the Federal CommunicationsCommission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital television website at: http://www.dtv.gov.
The FCC supposedly has undercover agents working in stores and surfing the web to make sure stores aren’t selling obsolete TVs to hapless rabbit-ear using folks. Meanwhile, Best Buy has stopped selling analog TVs outright.
FCC Takes Action To Prevent Cable Companies From Dropping Digital Broadcast Networks From Analog Cable
In 2009, broadcast channels are going to switch over to digital, freeing up a large swath of bandwidth that will be sold to the highest bidder. At that point, says the FCC, cable companies were going to drop broadcast networks from analog cable.
The FCC will require retailers to warn consumers that certain television models will not work without additional equipment after the conversion to digital television in early 2009. The FCC nicely asked retailers to help educate the public, but concluded that voluntary efforts are “not working.”
Do you have an analog phone? No, not you. That guy over there with the Betamax. You do? Well, you should just accept that time and technology marches forward and upgrade your phone. The old analog system is going bye-bye next year, and Cingular is charging you $5 a month for no reason other than you still have an old crappy phone. Should they do this? Probably not. But they are.
Congress has ordered broadcasters to shut off old-style analog TV broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009, and replace them with sharper digital ones. When that happens, millions of households with pre-digital TVs that rely on antennas will need to have purchased and installed digital converter boxes that will cost a minimum of $60 each.
Reader Charlie writes in with a complaint about Acura and OnStar. Charlie has a 2003 Acura TL that came equipped with OnStar. Usually he renews for 2 years at a time, but this time something was wrong. OnStar wouldn’t let him renew because his Acura had an analog OnStar system, and due to a FCC ruling, the wireless carriers that provide service to OnStar will no longer be required to maintain analog networks.