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Four Hundred and Eleven Days 411 days left, and I'm almost feeling giddy. Giddy like the boy who is wishing for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, and has seen the box in a closet. 411 days to wait before I am free again. Free from "reality" television, free from being "Lost," free from "Dancing with the Stars." Almost two score ago, I first freed myself. It was the result of a Christmas gift my father gave me. A metal-headed hammer. I hammered this and that, then the Philco's. picture tube. My parents took their sweet time to replace that console television. As a result I never really watched TV. Years later, I became matrimonially attached to the daughter of a TV lover. During our first year of marriage, I'm sure he felt that I was needlessly subjecting my bride, his daughter, to a less than full life. He bought us a television set just as the Gulf War was to begin. And so it began. Actually I may have less than 411 days to wait for freedom. Originally the FCC had set a date of February 17, 2009 for the switch to digital broadcast TV signals. But on New Years Eve this past year, the FCC announced in a 154-page document that broadcasters can terminate analog TV signals prior to the February 17, 2009 digital signal transition date if they meet certain conditions. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, I am part of the 50 percent of U.S. households who only have analog capable televisions. I furthermore belong to a subgroup of this; the 20 percent of U.S. households that the FCC estimates to receive only OTA (over-the-air) broadcast, no cable TV, no satellite DBS. I have a choice to make. Purchase an either digital capable TV or set-top converter or face the cold reality of "going dark." The Federal Government is now offering $40 vouchers to offset the estimated $70 purchase cost of a set-top converter. They will be in the form of a "gift card" that will expire 90 days after issuance. I can request two vouchers for my household, as can anyone until the initial $990 million worth of vouchers are given away. Then there will be $510 million worth of vouchers available only to those who "cross their heart, hope to die, stick a needle in their eye" swear that they only receive OTA broadcasts. The website to apply for these vouchers is: www.dtv2009.gov. I cannot lay claim to being part of the "Digital Divide." Our household has four computers and a recently acquired wireless broadband internet connection. Part of the reason for the switch to digital broadcast signals is to free up precious spectrum bandwidth. This is to allow for more wireless internet broadband signals to erase the "Digital Divide" and also to create space for public safety (military?) wireless communications. The "private sector" part of this valuable spectrum is expected to bring in $15 billion when auctioned off by the FCC. I may well choose to "go dark." The question is - Will I be left in the dark or will I be free?


sunflower_sue 10 years, 5 months ago

fine! I read it already! Yes, since another TV just bit the dust tonight, I may just have to join you in the dark. It would be really difficult, though. (I don't think I can live without Survivor!)

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