Friday, June 12, 2009

DTV Switchover Really Caught Some People by Surprise? Really?

I caught a snippet of the TV news tonight (which is rare for me), and they were talking about the big switch over to a digital TV signal that took place at noon today. I'm not sure which surprised me more--that the local station I was watching had an active call center fielding questions about the switch, or that people were actually calling it. But the thing that really blew my mind was that, after the government, electronics retailers, and the TV stations themselves making a big deal out of the switchover for years, there were still some people who were evidently unaware that anything was happening:
The Association for Public Television Stations, found in a September 2008 study, that 51 percent of people surveyed had no idea that the transition was taking place next year. Another study, which focused on households that receive their television signals mainly over the air, found that 57 percent had still not heard about the transition.
Amazing. And there were some unprepared people locally as well:
[T]he Federal Communications Commission estimated in late May that 6.67 percent of Dallas-Fort Worth households with TVs – more than twice the national average of 2.9 percent – weren't ready for the switch, which had been postponed from its original date of Feb. 17.
A few years ago, I had that original date seared in my mind for a while, as I figured I'd have to replace my old-school 1991 model TV. But it turns out that those of us who have cable didn't have to do a thing, so I can put off the HDTV purchase for another day (year?).

But overall, it seems that the transition here went pretty smoothly, so it's possible that the people calling in to the stations were mostly concerned with small technical glitches and not wondering where their favorite show went. And most of those who needed a converter box may not have had it set up yet, but at least they owned the thing already.

So as far as Casa de Kev goes, the change had little effect. Sure, the very small TV in my kitchen is now a very large paperweight, but I didn't watch TV while cooking all that much in the first place. (Doing so, of course, would require me to actually cook on a regular basis.) But there was one cool thing about that TV: It showed me that there was about a five-second gap between over-the-air and cable; I could watch a snippet of, say, The Simpsons in the kitchen (I tend to eat in a lot on Sunday nights) and then go into the living room and see the exact same part of the show again. I don't know why cable is five seconds slower, but there you have it.

Otherwise, I didn't notice a huge difference in the signal quality between yesterday and today. I was happy to see that my VCR (a Montgomery Ward model, of the same vintage as my TV) still worked, though there was no improvement to the erratic reception of some cable-only channels. I got rid of my roof antenna months ago (yes, only months; the handyman next door was kind enough to take it down for me), and the last pair of rabbit ears in my house were attached to an actual rabbit.

So did the switchover affect you at all? Did all the channels work? Or did you even notice the difference?

UPDATE: I like the title of Althouse's post on the subject: "At long last, grandma turns on the television and discovers...there's nothing on."

Also, Lileks has a hilarious tweet on the subject: "This is odd. All my books about 1960s television are suddenly full of blank pages."

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