I don’t suppose that it can possibly be even a hint of a surprise to discover that the DTV Coupon Program is having a problem. I know that I’m not surprised that yet another government program is out of money.
This coupon program was supposed to be funded from the $20 billion dollars resulting from the FCC auctioning off the soon to be ex-analog tv frequencies. Yet they’re now complaining about being out of money and there’s talk about getting money out of the next stimulus package (more government vaporware? Time will tell.)
Why are they running out of money? Well, partly because even though those frequency auctions netted some $20 Billion dollars, only about $1.5 Billion has be allocated to the converter box program. Add this to the fact that snail mail delivery of the coupons is taking as long as four weeks or more and you can pretty much be certain that come Feb 17, 2009 there’s going to be a LOT of people that are royally pissed because their analog tv sets are worthless without the converter boxes. … even if they did request the coupons “early enough”.
Then there’s another factor that not many are saying much about. You see, when TV goes digital on Feb 17, it’s also going to mean a reduction in power levels as well. This means that if you’re one of the millions that live in rural areas and are more than say 70 to 80 miles from the tv station’s transmitter, the converter box could just turn out to be a really big paperweight because there won’t be a strong enough signal to make it worth turning on.
And before people start saying things like “get cable or satellite and don’t worry about it.”, that’s not always such an easy proposition out here in the sticks. Rural areas are almost always among the last to get services like these and when they DO get them, you get stuck with the oldest, barely working equipment that the provider has on hand because they’re going to keep the new stuff for their big city markets with LOTs more customers and revenue.
In the end I suppose that this is what happens when lawyers and politicians handle something that instead should be run by tech savvy people.
[Tags]digital tv, converter boxes, coupon program, city markets, tv frequencies, cable tv, satellite tv, analog tv, government program, tv sets, rural areas, tv station, fcc, coupons, stimulus package[/tags]