Feb 4, 2009

Let Them Eat Fancy Buns (The DTV Edition)

Gu'ils mangent de la brioche.
- Marie-Therese 1638-1683. Not Marie Antoinette

I think they're still teaching world history in American schools, so that quote may sound familiar, if not in its French incarnation, then definitely in its English pseudo-translation, "Let them eat cake." Most often, this quote is seen as a sign of ignorance, arrogance, and elitism, a feeling of being above others. I'm assuming you've heard that the digital transition date has been "largely moved" to June 12 (though broadcasters can still turn off their analog signals on February 17, and those reading this in the state of Hawaii and the city of Wilmington, North Carolina are already in the digital age in the US). But I'm shocked and kind of appalled to see a sense of elitism come out in a lot of people in regards to this topic.

I've read a lot of postings on television news sites and quotes from politicians who are convinced that 99% of Americans are already ready when the stats claim otherwise. Yes, a bulk of people do have access to cable, fiber-optic services, and satellite, but a lot more households don't have those and aren't willing to pay for those services. Yes, there are still houses without cable. There's also houses that don't have and can't afford new television sets. If it still works, why pay to get a new one, especially in this economy?

While I'm not fond of delaying the transition date, I do sympathize with those that are worried about the change, especially those households that still haven't gotten the coupons to receive a discount on the digital converter boxes (by the way, here's a quick fix on the need for coupons; perhaps if manufacturers of those boxes and retailers could sell them for a price equivalent to a new television antenna [around $15-$30], perhaps more it could make the shift that much easier). I also feel for those households in rural areas nowhere near the transmission towers that will get a lousy picture after the switch. Last time I checked, there are a LOT of rural areas in the United States.

I don't know. Maybe I'm too old, but I used to think the matters of the less fortunate was supposed to be a top priority. Yes, there are still going to be households without the converter boxes after this transition date, but it won't be so hellacious when it does come months from now rather than weeks. I could be wrong, and in all likelihood, I probably am.

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