Is the Conversion to Digital TV an Economic Stimulus Package in Disguise?

digital TV

Even though I don’t watch a lot of television I, like everyone else, have had to look into converting my TV to digital so I can continue to receive my local networks after February 2009. While I don’t watch much, I do like to be able to see the news or PBS every now and then. Other than that, I make no secret of my dislike for television. The conversion to DTV hasn’t made me feel any warmer toward the medium. In the process of looking into this digital transition, I’ve come to the conclusion that the conversion to DTV just might be an economic stimulus package in disguise.

Why do I think this? Because it’s a program that is designed to get people to spend mone


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12 Responses to Is the Conversion to Digital TV an Economic Stimulus Package in Disguise?

  1. Karen says:

    One thing that irritated me about the converter box coupons was that they have such a short time period. I think you have to use them within 60 days. I signed up for my coupons early, because I generally do everything early. But I didn’t know that when I did that, I’d get coupons that had to be used almost immediately. I don’t get it – people who sign up later will get coupons that they can use later – it’s not as if everyone has to buy a box before a certain time. So why the short time to use your coupons once you get them?

    I was planning on buying a converter box. Right now I have cable, but I might not in the future. But this isn’t a good time for me financially (my job is uncertain) and I decided I didn’t want to spend any money (even $20) for the next couple of months. By then, my coupons will be expired.

  2. henrik says:

    Well The switch to digital TV is simply technical progress. And a good one at that, DTV and esp. HDTV is significantly better (at least in my part of the world)

    You should actually be gratefull that the government is handling out those coupons, In my country we have to pay for ourselves

    Although I gladly do because I get my money worth.

  3. Miranda says:

    I agree that there seems to be some sanctioned “money blowing” going on. However, if you get a TV with a digital tuner (many TVs now), the antenna isn’t necessary. Most TVs have a built in tuner that will pick the local digital channels just fine. Of course, the antenna would add better quality and allow you to get channels from further away.

    Another interesting choice? Get a DVR. It can serve as a converter box and allow you to record shows in the bargain (and skip commercials). It costs more than a basic converter box ($150-$300 on average), but if you want to ditch the VCR for recording your shows it can be a good move.

  4. Rick Franics says:

    While the TV conversion may cause a lot of people to upgrade their TVs this change has been a long time in coming, so it doesn’t seem plausible to me that it’s an economic stimulus in disguise. It’s a very reasonable technical advancement, if there were no government regulation I suspect it would have happened a long time ago.

    I recently got a $50 converter box, so I spent $10 after the coupon. Using the same rabbit ears antenna the signal quality is now significantly better. I would have been willing to pay a onetime $50 for that improvement, so that $10 is a real deal.

    The downsides of the converter box are the following:
    #1 Our old VCR does not have a digital tuner so the converter box has to be set to the correct channel for the VCR to record correctly.
    #2 Yet another remote for the box.

  5. Cindy M says:

    Jennifer, I like your last paragraph. I’m irked over the whole business. I very reluctantly bought 2 el-cheapo converters with my 2 government coupons. I have 3 TVs with rabbit ears. To my dismay, when I tried to hook up the converters, they would not work; I’m thinking these 3 TVs are actually digital after all. I’m hanging on to the converters, thinking as a last resort that I might pick up an old TV at somebody’s garage sale this summer (I’ve always had good luck with used electronic stuff, not being all that fussy). Like you, I like PBS occasionally and want to watch local news sometimes but to tell the truth, when I do turn a set on, I’m asleep in no time anyway. Guess I can stick to watching DVDs and using my old VCR when I feel the need to watch a screen, that or catch what I can on my PC.

  6. Trent Hamm says:

    I’ve found that very few people seem to be affected at all by the conversion – and the only people that will be affected seem to be largely unaware of it. I told my brother – who lives in the middle of nowhere – about it and he seemed to not even get what I was talking about.

  7. My community has an authorized electronic recycling drop-off site at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

    I took a non-functional computer printer to the site today, and it was amazing to see the piles and piles of (old-fashioned ?) television sets that were in the dropoff area.

  8. Annie says:

    While I honestly really have no idea what HDTV/DTV, etc actually IS (or that DTV is taking over the world next year), all I know is that if I convert to anything from cable, it’s going to cost me more money and that’s not including the electricity bill to run all this stuff. HDTV uses up to 4 TIMES the amount of electricity that a regular TV does. No thanks!

    I have an older TV, but I’m still conflicted about getting rid of cable entirely. I do like to watch TV, but know I would accomplish much more if I didn’t have it at all.

  9. Jay Gatsby says:

    I have 3 TVs in my house – 2 19″ and 1 27″. My wife are rarely home, and when we are, spend more time on the computer than we do watching TV. I personally haven’t had cable TV since 1992. Running the numbers (assuming an average of $45/mo), I’ve saved approximately $12,000!

    While it’s true I’ve missed out on many aspects of popular culture (e.g., the Sopranos, Comedy Central shows, etc…) those shows are now available to me on Netflix through my $15/mo subscription.

    When you boil everything down, it’s cheaper to go with over-the-air digital television and a $15/mo Netflix subscription, than to subscribe to cable or satellite TV. I may hook up my old VCR or save shows to my 500GB hard drive for later playback (no TiVo for me — why pay for something like that?)

  10. Aaron says:

    This thing reeks of Lobbyist to me. It has the aroma of broadband companies forcing crap on the public. I am not a conspiratorial person usually, but I am pretty convinced that there is something brewing in the big broadband company culture that is really dangerous. I am hoping the with our suddenly democratic government, they will not only fail, but be exposed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My pet theory is that this is a law bought and paid for by cable and satellite companies to finish saturating an 80 percent saturated market.

    To get the signal good, you need quite the antenna. I live only ten miles from the transmitters and I use a homebrew rig that looks like something from WW2. I have it indoors. Good thing I’m not a homeowner. Neighbours would end up thinking I’m part of the SETI project!

    It turns out that the transmissions will NOT be turned up once the analog is turned off. If you get bad reception now, chances are you’ll have lousy reception after 2/17/2009.

    Now, I am tech-savvy enough to design antenna systems. Most people aren’t and those without reception will be FORCED to get cable or satellite. That is the key. The cable and satellite companies want to kill on-air TV to get more money. All they needed was a new law to buy with lobbyist money.

  12. Kerry Rogers says:

    Actually, the conversion has saved my family money already. My dad lives in the country, somewhere between two big cities. We hooked up his converter boxes, he has invested 12.00 dollars in all three, and with his old antenna, has plenty of channels to choose from. He now has the option to drop the satellite service he has been using to get the basic channels. If you don’t want movies, sports packages, and all of the other junk, then by all means, I say the conversion is worth it. I stuck up and old junk CB antenna on the metal roof of my garage, and I pick up plenty of channels. With the addition of a $6.00 in line amplifier from e-bay, I have no problems getting more than enough channels, this set was set up for emergencies only….hurricanes to be exact…so that when the cable goes out, I can power the converter with a small inverter, and still be informed.

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