Fade to black

We’re just a few days away from the end of analog TV broadcasts or the arrival of the analog TV doorstop, depending on your point of view.

There aren’t that many Minnesota households that get over-the-air TV — about 350,000 or 17 percent of the households. People who subscribe to cable or satellite don’t have to do much. Everyone else had to buy converter boxes (or new TVs).

As of last week, Minnesotans had requested 1,314,770 coupons from the federal government for discounts on the converter boxes. Only 763,814 had been redeemed. The possibilities are endless with the math: People ordered coupons when they didn’t need them, or people are delaying buying the converter boxes, or people are cutting down on the number of TVs in the house. The coupons redeemed so far suggest two TVs per over-the-air household. Perhaps they decided they didn’t really need a TV in the linen closet.

But more than 10 percent of the homes in the nation that rely on an over-the-air signal, will stare at black screens come Friday, officials say. In one area of West Virginia, it’s a big enough problem that firefighters are pitching in.

Here’s a page of resources for the conversion. Let us know how it goes for you.

  • kennedy

    I’m in a single television household and get only over the air broadcast. Last summer I requested a rebate check and ordered a $40 converter box, both online and both on the same day. Both arrived in a week or two. The rebate requires a receipt that I did not receive with my online purchase. Due primarily to my lack of follow-up, I did not get a receipt and the rebate coupon expired 90 days later. By then I lost the motivation to reapply for the rebate. I have been getting digital since late last summer.

    What does it say when a person goes to the effort of ensuring they can watch television but can’t muster the effort to get the government subsidy for it?

  • bsimon

    We’ve been digital for about 9 months. It has generally gone well – there is more programming than on analog channels – particularly on PBS stations. We were using rabbit ears on each TV, which generally worked. Now the rabbit ears are in the attic, feeding to a line booster, which sends output to each TV via coax cable. Curiously, the TV that gets the worst reception is the new digital TV. go figure…

  • b

    wouldn’t most minnesotans be better off without the tv? they could participate in life rather than observe it

  • Bob Collins

    You know, I think the same thing when I shut off the TV and go experience life, and am surrounded by people experiencing it through the lens of a camera.

  • tiredboomer

    // wouldn’t most minnesotans be better off without the tv? they could participate in life rather than observe it //

    Wouldn’t most news cut bogers be better off without internet access? WE could participate in life rather than blog about it.

  • Neal

    All I can say is that this has been a step back in reception for my house. If I stand on my roof I can see the Shoreview towers, so I thought it would be easy to get reception.

    The new TV upstairs way dying so I bought a new HDTV to replace the old. The amplified rabbit ears that I had on the old set didn’t bring in any signals. So I bought a new powered antenna. I get most signals—IF it isn’t windy or raining or snowing.

    The old set downstairs in the basement had good picture so I got a converter box and hooked it to the roof antenna. I got only one digital station. I reaimed the antenna. Only got one station. Bought an amplified roof antenna, and only got one station. Redid the cable connector ends, got 2 stations.

    Went to Radio Shack, was told the I was YOO close to the signal and therefore couldn’t get reliable signal. They recommended an standard, non-amplified rabbit ear antenna for the TV. I got it and hooked it up.

    I ran through the signal aquisition process 4 times before I had it positioned right for 16 digital stations to register on the converter box.

    Now when I watch TV downstairs I have to move the antenna with each channel change and the signal is interupted every minute or so if it is windy or rainy.

    What BS!! No turning on the TV during unsettled weather because there will be no reliable signal.

    I am convinced the change was pushed by the cable association instead of the broadcasters association.

  • mulad

    Of course, the TVs won’t “fade to black” — they’ll just show static.

    Yeah, my main annoyances with digital TV are that they didn’t seem to think of people who have to turn the antenna — with analog, you only need a mediocre signal to figure out what show is on since you can still see outlines and stuff, plus the fact that the audio channel was broadcast on FM, which made it very resistant to interference. Digital, in contrast, mostly requires you to point the antenna directly at the broadcast towers. (Of course, there are omni-directional antennas out there, but I have no idea how well they work.)

    I could put up with a lot more drop-outs on HDTV if only the audio didn’t drop out along with the video. They really should have used a method that let things degrade more gracefully.

    Of course, receivers can vary in quality a lot. My parents paid through the nose for a Samsung receiver for their HDTV-ready set several years ago, and always fought with it. They gave in last year and bought a new receiver that works much better.

    Then again, analog TVs have varied a lot in receiving quality too — by the mid-1990s, many TVs seemed to just be designed to pick up the relatively clean signals coming from a cable connection rather than an antenna.