Hazlett in Miami Herald: Switch to Digital TV a Non-Event

Commenting in a Miami Herald article, Professor Thomas Hazlett predicts the nation's complete switch to digital television that takes place on June 12 will prove far less burdensome than originally feared. 

"Around the country, hundreds of TV stations switched over to digital in February and March, and it was a non-event," Hazel says. "The FCC had all these phone banks set up to handle complaints, and they were letting everyone go by noon. The fact is that most people who don't have cable or satellite also don't watch much TV."

Stations have been broadcasting two signals, digital and analog, for as much as ten years. Friday the analog signals will cease, allowing valuable frequencies vacated by TV's switch to the digital signal to be assigned to law enforcement and other agencies or auctioned off to private telecom firms.

TV's switch to digital is finally here, The Miami Herald, June 10, 2009. by Glenn Garvin.

"The changeover to digital from the analog system used since the invention of TV in the 1920s has been anything but abrupt. The government began studying the change in 1987, OK'd it 10 years later and ordered TV manufacturers to make every new set digital-capable in 2004. The timetable for the change has been shifted several times, most recently when the newly arrived Obama administration asked Congress to postpone it from February to June.

"Hundreds of stations, however, got permission from the FCC to go ahead and make the change earlier, citing the expense of broadcasting two signals. 'It's going to save us $20,000 a month in electricity alone,' said one local broadcaster.

"The change from analog to digital was prompted in part to give consumers a better TV picture, and in part to free up the stronger, low frequencies of the broadcast spectrum for devices that can make better use of them.

"'When TV was first developing in the 1930s, technology was primitive,' said Greg Harper, who runs Panasonic's digital-TV website "There wasn't all this demand for cellphones and Blackberries and stuff. So they used the prime frequencies, the strongest ones, for TV, because nobody else wanted it."

"As new technologies like cellphones and sophisticated emergency communications systems developed, they were assigned to the weaker, higher frequencies where signals could be deflected by buildings, trees or even hard rain."

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