Big Four Networks Don't Mind Delaying Digital Transition
ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS have lined up behind the proposal by the Obama transition team to move the DTV transition date.
By John Eggerton and Marisa Guthrie -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/8/2009 10:47:00 AM
Add Fox to the list of networks that is OK with moving the DTV transition date if that's what it takes to successfully move viewers from analog to digital.
Fox parent News Corp. said in a statement Thursday that it "supports any efforts to ensure that the transition to digital television is a success. Our first concern is what’s best for our viewers, and we believe that the Obama-Biden Transition Team shares our concern. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration, Congress, and the FCC to achieve a smooth DTV transition."
The networks were responding t
, though the Obama camp did not say by how much. It is currently set for Feb. 17, 2009, less than five weeks away. The Bush Administration didn't respond directly,
ABC has said it supports Obama's requests, while CBS says it is, "open to the suggestion," but adds that it is open, "to any suggestion that makes the digital transition easier for our viewers. We look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to that end.”
NBC supports the move, too. “President-elect Obama's call to extend the DTV transition deadline is prudent and well-considered, helping to ensure that all over-the-air households are ready to receive digital signals on the new transition date. We look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to implement the President-elect's proposal.,” the network said in a statement.
CBS will proceed as planned given that the February sweeps period has waned in importance, the network's strategy has been to spread out the numbers of original episodes of regular series between February and March. But there are still some big events in February: the Grammys, and the premieres of the latest iterations of Survivor and The Amazing Race. But they do not anticipate any programming changes as a direct result of any proposed or actual transition delay.
The "transition" (more accurately, the "Cutoff of analog full-power broadcasts") has already been postponed once. Do we postpone it again, making the "I'm not gonna do anything, 'cause they'll just keep puttin' it off" people right?
Few have taken it seriously, with many people just saying they'll wait and get Cable. If we postpone it, they'll still wait.
We've had ten years to get the message out. Ten years to design and build test equipment for installers. Ten years to train antenna installers. Ten years to tell developers and MDU people about MATV systems. Ten years to develop plans and strategies.
Now, two months away, people are starting to panic. It's too late to start over now.
Ken English - 1/10/2009 11:39:00 AM EST
There is nothing wrong with analog TV. I currently get all the VHF and UHF stations in Providence and Boston with a roof antenna. I hooked up the Digital box and am down to three stations.
DTV is nothing more than a giant government scam to enrich the cable companies.
Ed - 1/10/2009 11:11:00 AM EST
The delay is a joke, pure and simple.
I'd like to see the other discretionary spending done by those who claim they "can't afford" a $40 converter box. Cigarettes? Liquor? DVD rentals?
People have known this was coming for over a year. Businesses have paid for that spectrum, in advance.
No matter when it occurs, there will always be people claiming "they didn't know."
Congress didn't force studios to keep issuing movies on VHS when DVD took over, nor were there "DVD coupon programs" to buy DVD players for people.
Let the conversion take place.
The networks don't "mind" because it doesn't affect them one way or the other. Any costs (that of running multiple transmitters) are borne by the affiliates, so it's no bother to them.
If affiliates are worried, I'm sure most electronic stores would be thrilled to team up with their local TV station for a big converter box blowout sale for little more cost to the affiliate of running their analog transmitter for another month or so.
Bill - 1/9/2009 4:41:00 PM EST
I wonder what those companies that bought the analog spectrum at auction last year think about having to wait on the "transition"?
Also I can't believe that waiting a while will make this transition any easier. There will always be "poor, rural or elderly" folks who can't pay - or don't understand.
Let's do it and deal with the consequences. Waiting won't help anything and will make the 99% of us who are "ready" have to watching those crawls and PSA's for even longer!!!
Hoyt Andres - 1/9/2009 1:43:00 PM EST
For those in favor of removing VHF stations, have you stopped to consider the stations that will acquire their former analog VHF channels (6-13) after giving up their temporary digital UHF ones?
I believe a four-prong effort could enable the current February 17 shutoff a success:
1. Government compensation if necessary for free TV station monikered converters who request them from their local stations preferably after the switch.
2. Government compensation for all converters in retail stores as current DTV converter program draws down.
3. Increase power output of digital stations beyond current proposed levels after switch.
4. Sparingly and very temporarily use the amateur television frequencies (just below air channel 14) that coincide with the cable television frequencies (around cable channel 64) for analog simulcasts for some if not most broadcast stations just after the
official switch (only if LPTV-Broadcast Station simulcast partnerships cannot be drawn).
LAWRENCE PREVITI - 1/9/2009 12:32:00 PM EST
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