EEPI - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative

EEPI Home Page

EEPI Announcements Mailing List Information

EEPI Discussions Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ EEPI-Discuss ] Hypocrisy in Analog TV Cutoff Debate

Greetings.  As noted in:


Congress is moving toward demanding a late 2008, early 2009 cutoff
to conventional off-air analog television broadcasting.  Without
getting into all of the arguments again here that we've discussed
previously, it's amusing to note the newly opportunistic hypocrisy
in some of the arguments for the cutoff.

In particular, we're now seeing the recent hurricanes being used as
an excuse, to "free up spectrum already set aside to improve police,
firefighter and other emergency communications."  But we know what's
really going on.  Most of the spectrum to be pulled from analog TV
has nothing whatever to do with public safety, and everything to do
with auctioning off the spectrum to private companies for many
billions of dollars.  Those billions have been written into the
budget for years, and Congress is desperate to get that "IOU" off of
the books.

It's true that only a relatively small percentage of U.S. television
viewers still depend on off-air broadcasting for all of their TV
viewing.  But in terms of absolute numbers it's still lots of
people.  And that doesn't even take into account all of the
secondary TVs that many people have in their homes that often
depend on off-air signals, even if a fancier primary set is hooked
to cable or satellite.

I assert that only a tiny percentage of U.S. viewers have any concept
that the federal government is getting ready to obsolete all of those
otherwise working televisions.  People continue to buy all manner
of analog TVs every day, totally oblivious to this issue.

I also find it remarkable -- given the press of other budget
priorities like war, hurricane relief, etc. -- that Congress is
seriously considering actually subsidizing the cost of converter
boxes as well, when most people already have televisions that would
continue to work just fine if this forced transition weren't being
rammed down their throats.

If Congress hadn't counted on the spectrum sale money before it
actually existed, we wouldn't have this mess.  As usual, it's
ordinary consumers who end up getting the shaft.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren@pfir.org or lauren@vortex.com or lauren@www.eepi.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, EEPI
   - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative - http://www.eepi.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com
EEPI-Discuss mailing list information: