HDTV Deadline Set

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

We've already told you that analog TV as you know it will be kaput sometime in the next five years, but a US Senate panel working on a new bill has actually attached a real date to this wishy-washy deadline. April 7, 2009 is now the day delegated for TV stations to switch entirely to digital programming. Great for those of us who have already made the swtich to compatible hardware, not so great for those with old tube TVs. The government has also decided that when those analog wavelengths are abandoned, they'll sell them off in an auction that they hope to bring in more than $10 billion. Wowsa. No wonder they're so psyched to get this done with. However, to make things a little better for those who just don't have digital TV on the top of their shopping lists, the new bill has allotted up to $3 billion to subsidize some of the cost for Americans to buy devices that would convert digital signals so existing analog television sets could still work. These boxes should cost about $50 a pop.
"We take the position that, if we're mandating this conversion, we cannot leave people behind," Sen. Ted Stevens, the committee chairman and an Alaska Republican, told reporters. "I don't expect to lose that $3 billion" in debate on the Senate floor, he said.
Awww, isn't that sweet? No couch potato left behind. Of course, it seems that another bill being drafted in the House Commerce Committee has some differences, allotting the deadline as December 31, 2008 and only $990 million for the converter box program. Soooooooooo, we'll just see who comes up on top.


Senate panel sets end to analog TV broadcasts [Reuters]