Tuned In

Digital Switch Becomes a Political Issue

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Those incessant public-service announcements reminding you to prepare your TV for the digital switchover may have to be updated (and stick around a while longer). The Obama transition team is recommending that the switch–in which analog signals will be replaced by digital ones–be delayed past the planned Feb. 17 date.

The digital signals are clearer and capable of carrying more data; but TVs using antennas to receive a signal require a converter to receive them. Millions of those TVs reportedly don’t yet, amid hitches in delivering coupons meant to subsidize the change. According to Nielsen, 7.8 million are unready. That’s a small fraction of the total number of TVs–and the 85% or so of Americans who get cable or satellite need no converters—but the very people who are not prepared are the people who, for instance, have over-the-air PBS as their only source of educational kids’ TV. Unless they get the converter in time, their sets would lose reception Feb. 17. 

Obama and some of the networks are supporting the delay; some Republican lawmakers oppose it, saying the transition is not failing. Out of curiosity, do any Tuned Inlanders get an antenna-only signal?