A blog about media and communications policy would be remiss if it did not mark the fact that this is a watershed date in television history – even if nothing much seems out of the ordinary.
This, after all, is June 12, the date years in the making on which television broadcasters are converting their analog signals to digital. For TV viewers with cable or satellite (i.e., most of us) there is no difference. For those who still rely on antenna reception of over-the-air broadcast signals, there will be no more TV until they get a converter box (for which the federal government has been offering discount coupons for months).
The good news is that most people have already taken steps to become digital-ready. Paul Karpowicz, chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters TV Board, said at a press conference yesterday that only 1.75 million over-the-air households have not prepared for the changeover.
The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) said it received almost 320,000 requests for converter-box coupons yesterday alone, up from the recent daily average of 114,272. And for those who somehow haven’t gotten the word about the switch to digital, the FCC has 4,000 operators standing by 24/7.
FCC and industry leaders acknowledge that some stations might experience a few engineering bumps. But for broadcasters and viewers alike, the changeover is said to be going relatively (and even surprisingly) well.