Thursday, February 05, 2009

Kaptur votes to delay DTV transition

I can't help it. When I heard and then read Rep. Marcy Kaptur's comments about the digital TV conversion and her vote to delay it, I instantly thought "Katrina," closely followed by the TV show "South Park."

From her website:

"“America is simply not ready for the conversion,” said Kaptur. “In my district alone, more than five thousand households are still waiting for the coupons to buy converters so their TV screens don’t go dark. Nationally, an estimated two million households remain on a waiting list requests for these coupons. An estimated 6.5 million households would lose reception without an extension of the deadline.”

Kaptur said the coupons are important, particularly for senior citizens who rely on television as their primary source for information such as weather and emergencies."

So - we've got more than 5,000 households in Congressional District 9 that are waiting for government to save them from a blank TV. Does anyone else have a problem with that?

No wonder my thoughts went to Katrina and the "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" South Park episode. In both these situations, we had people (not everyone, I know) 'waiting' for government to come and save them, instead of taking action on their own.

I find it highly condescending that Kaptur believes senior citizens, who have survived Depression, recessions, world war and the most technological change than at any other time in the history of the world, cannot handle this change without government help. Furthermore, if senior citizens rely so heavily upon television, then surely they've seen the advertisements that government and TV stations have spent billions (yes, billions with a 'b') warning us about.

And how does she know how many homes are unprepared? Did the TV police come to inspect and I missed them? How does she know that some of these households didn't see the ads and go out and get their converters or sign up for cable and not tell the government?

But then there is comment from Kaptur:

“A delay of 115 days will allow the government to fulfill its commitment to the people,” Kaptur said. The legislation allows customers who never redeemed coupons for the converter boxes to apply for replacement coupons. However, no household will be able to redeem more than two coupons."

Funny - I always thought government's commitment to the people was to follow the Constitution and, as hard as I've looked, I haven't found anywhere in that document about government's obligation to ensure a right to a TV.

But what about the coupons? We've given out coupons that people haven't yet redeemed and that's why we need to delay the implementation? Won't that just mean that these people who've waited this long to do something will wait even longer?

Do we really think that people who've received the coupons wouldn't actually go out and use them once their TV screen went dark? Maybe that's just what they're waiting for but, thanks to Congress, they'll now wait even longer. (I see a vicious cycle starting - don't you?)

I also notice there is no mention of any cost consequences to the broadcast stations. They've spent their own money gearing up for this and informing people only to find that all their plans - due to be implemented in only 12 days - are now on hold. There are certainly costs associated with that.

Of course, the 'porkulus' bill contains even more money to 'help' with the transition - money that has to be spent by September, even though the new implementation date is in June. Do you think Congress might know something we don't when it comes to the actual implementation?

Congress has proved again that its meddling in the market just makes things worse. This debacle was estimated (pre-porkulus), by the Congressional Budget Office, to cost more than $3 billion with a significant portion of those funds for the coupons to purchase a converter and the 'educational' outreach so people would know what was happening. Obviously the American public is too dumb to be able to handle this on our own - and the delay is further proof of what our Congress thinks of us.

Sometimes I think the movie Idiocracy is prophecy.

If you'd really like to have your eyes opened on the subject, you should read "Frankenstein Television" by Michael Heberling and published in the Foundation for Economic Education's Freeman magazine. It's from 2003, but it details the disaster that results from such government interference, which this delay only emphasizes. As Heberling points out, "The federal government did not mandate an end to black-and-white TV, and it should not impose a mandate this time either."


Hooda Thunkit said...


This digital transition has been 7-years plus in coming.

If people still aren't prepared for it, what makes Ms. Kaptur think that another 4-month delay will make any difference?

And, what does handing out free converters to these "Johnny Come Latelies" tell those who are prepared?

Besides, the delay will cost public safety and others millions in rescheduling work to reband the radio systems desperately in need of the promised, yet withheld spectrum. . .

Typical government..., hurry up..., and wait even longer :-(

2Bn11FA said...

Simply put, Marcie Kaptur is insane, as are most of the other democrats in political office. They complain of the "failed" policies of the past 8-years and then resume the failed policies of almost 80-years ago. NUTS I tell ya, just NUTS! I am glad I live in the 5th least most of the time Latta understands what is far!

Jay Ott said...

So, the people who are going to be using DTV won't have to worry about this transition until June.

Why would they choose to delay DTV until June?

I think it's because people might miss Obama's t.v. appearances, thus making that particular so-called voting block not as full of "hope and change" as they were when they elected him.

So the reason June might have been chosen as the DTV deadline, is because the majority of the work that the federal government will do, is from now until it winds down for the summer.

Tim Higgins said...


Thanks, now I have a picture in my head of Marcie Kaptur as Cartman screaming, "Respect my authorie".

Based on other Democratically backed legislation, one can only see this ridiculous bit of nonsense as a stepping stone to nationally funded cable television. (The fact that it will be a cable television ruled by a Fairness Doctrine should go without saying.)


Mad Jack said...

We have options. From Frankenstein Television: Buy a digital-ready TV, subscribe to cable TV, subscribe to satellite TV, buy a set-top box converter so that your old-fashioned TV can decode the digital signal, or start reading books.

I could spend $130 for a new TV. If I had $130, that is.

I suppose I could pay the cable company for the privilege of watching inane commercials and even more inane situation comedies. An added benefit is being able to call up tech support and find out what the weather is like in Southern India.

If I don't like the idea of the cable company, I can always try a satellite service. I'll get to call up tech support in India and talk about my weather versus their weather, and listen patiently as they try to explain why thunderstorms interfere with the satellite signal.

Then there's this box converter business. Fifty dead presidents at Best Buy. Better than nothing I suppose, but I may be wrong.

I could take up reading and listening to the radio. Even though I am a product of public education, I'm able to read. Well, my mother taught me how, and her mother - my grandmother - taught me to write. My thanks to both of them.

The trouble is that reading tends to produce thinking, and thinking produces questions. Which is bad for government.

My solution, if I'm not ready, is to stare at the snow for a while, then turn the idiot box off and go to the public library, and see what's what. The used bookstore is attractive. I used to go to Leo's Book & Wine on Sunday. I was pretty broke back then, but every other week or so we'd be able to afford a bottle of inexpensive wine and a few used books. I really enjoyed that.

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