The DTV Transition: Get on With It!

by Team Sony 01/16/2009

I was taking my usual morning walk listening to Chip Franklin on KOGO radio and he did a funny piece that was simulcast on the local NBC television station about the completion of the digital television transition slated for Feb. 17.  I think you’ll get a kick out of it, as Chip talks to people here in San Diego who clearly have no clue what is scheduled to happen on that date or what DTV actually stands for.

Meanwhile, there is a fair amount of post-CES rumbling coming from Washington bureaucrats and possibly our president-elect about rethinking next month’s timing for the analog shut-down as the nation moves to full digital television broadcasting.

All this noise aside, I say let’s get on with it.

Public service messages have been all over the airways for months now about the transition. Millions of coupons for $40 discounts have been distributed to consumers for digital converter boxes. And, interestingly, a huge percentage of them have not even been redeemed. 

The reality is that the vast majority of Americans will not be affected, including those who have either cable or satellite service, which some estimate to encompass 85-90 percent of U.S. households.  For folks with analog TVs, the cable and satellite providers who they currently use already take care of converting the digital signals so they can receive them on their old sets.

Beyond this, the Consumer Electronics Association reports that over 50 percent of the homes here in the States have invested in an HDTV set with a built-in, over-the-air digital tuner.  Despite the economic woes, high-definition TV sales continue to be brisk, primarily driven by flat-panel LCD sets (like the Sony BRAVIA line) and, to a lesser degree, plasma televisions.  There are also a large number of rear projection and some CRT digital televisions in American households, as well.

So, basically, this issue revolves around people who have old analog TVs and use either a roof-top antenna or rabbit ears for their reception. These are the folks who will need to get a converter box and certainly should take advantage of the government’s coupon program.  And as I said earlier, millions have done so. However, upwards of 30-40 percent have not redeemed them yet at their local retailer. It makes me wonder if people who asked for the coupons early on really did not need them in the first place. Meanwhile, there now is a shortage of available coupons. But, like money, I’m sure the government can print more.

In any event, my view is that delaying the inevitable transition will only create more confusion among consumers and finger-pointing among politicians. Digital television is a good thing. The pictures are much better and the broadcasters can offer the public a greater variety of programming. Beyond this, the government can actually make some money (without raising taxes) by selling the analog signals for a variety of broadband and wireless applications.  Plus, the government will get some spectrum for emergency broadcasting purposes.

My advice is to keep the DTV transition date and encourage our government officials to move on to other more important issues. Please.



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  1. guest_user wrote: January 20, 2009 11:11am

    We have a family member who has a portable Sony Trinitron that they still use that has to be 40 years old. The TV still works great and they’ve purchased a digital converter box for it. Unfortunately, the connections to and from the box do not seem to be compatible with the TV (i.e, no RF connection). Does anyone know if this TV is actually too old to convert?


  2. guest_user wrote: January 21, 2009 6:22pm

    Kevin, Thank you for your comment. Can you provide a model number for the television?

  3. guest_user wrote: January 23, 2009 11:10am

    I have a small, battery powered television that my wife and I use when the electricity goes out (…far too often and far too long for being so close to a major city, IMHO.) That television will be useless in less than a month, and nobody makes a battery powered DTV that I can replace it with.
    You make battery powered DVD players; why can’t you put a DTV tuner in one of them?

  4. guest_user wrote: January 26, 2009 1:13pm

    Kevin, Some digital converter boxes have ‘RF Out’ and some only have Composite and/or S-Video. Apparently, the converter box you got doesn’t have the ‘RF Out’ that you need to connect your older TV. See if you can take it back and swap it for one that does.

  5. guest_user wrote: January 26, 2009 7:15pm

    i just bought a sony navu44 and it does not like street #s.
    i live near gigharbor washington st .
    my brouther lives in union gap wash. about 3 hundred miles away.
    the navu44 wont take eather address
    i hooked it to my computer and followed the directions in the book.
    nothing the screen on the navu shows a pc and the navu with
    a line between each but it does not contac eather one.
    i m 70 years old so be kind in dumber than a stunp.
    thanks Joel

  6. guest_user wrote: January 27, 2009 1:51pm

    Thank you for your comment. We would like to help you with this issue. Can you please email with a summary of your issue, your proper contact information and the best days and times you can be reached?

  7. guest_user wrote: January 30, 2009 5:24pm

    We are tring to adapt an old Sony for digital reception.
    My aunt, who lives in Connecticut, has an old, black & white Sony portable TV with one rod antenna attached.. We recorded the following information from the back:
    Model TV-760. Feb 1976. There is no serial number.
    She did purchase a digital converter box. Trying to help her, we found it needed an adapter to go between the converter and the TV – attaching 2 double prongs around 2 screws/knobs at the back of the TV. We did that and we see the expected screen, but that’s as far as we can go. Using the remote from the converter box, whether aimed at the converter box or at the screen on the TV, there is no response. Is the TV too old for this conversion, or is there something else we can do? Thank you for any consideration you may give this inquiry. Our aunt spends most of her time watching the TV in her kitchen, so it is important for her.

  8. guest_user wrote: February 22, 2009 1:34am

    I think it is good to have the government implement a mandated digital conversion! I hope that people will find a way to keep up with it. There are people who are comfort able with their old-school TV but should have the benefits of clear reception.

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