A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This is a story about religion, technology and governmental bungling. And Greed. On Tuesday February 17th television as we have known it for 81 years will change forever and not necessarily for the better. You may have seen the crawls on your TV screen or the commercial featuring Bob Barker touting the big switch to digital TV. What it means is the old analog transmitters are now scrap and will be turned off forever. For most it will make no difference. If you get your TV from a cable or a satellite connection you are all set. But if Wheel of Fortune comes to you via antenna or rabbit ears you have to get a converter box. My in-laws needed this so I took care of it. It works fine but it adds an unwelcome layer of technology to their lives and another remote control. And now that they are digitized they can’t see the Catholic Mass anymore. Why? Because Catholic TV produced by Catholic Television, Diocese of Scranton, is a Low Power TV Broadcast Station using Channel Seven in analog. If you are using a digital box you don’t get analog so my in-laws are bereft. I spoke to the Manager of Catholic Television, James Brennan about this. No plans to go digital, he said but unlike other outlets they can keep the trusty analog running. He also remarked that my query was not the first he had received. His suggestion? Cable. Or a switch to bypass the new-fangled digital box so my in-laws can see the miracle of transubstantiation in the comfort of the front parlor. Just what they don’t need. Another switch. Why this big switch anyway? Is it progress marching on? Or is it the 20 BILLION your government raised selling off the old analog spectrum to the highest bidders? Mostly cell phone companies and wireless internet providers. Add to this the fact that the program to provide coupons to help defray the cost of buying the converter boxes RAN OUT OF MONEY and the whole thing is beginning to sound like it’s being run by Luzerne County judges. It’s so screwed up that President Obama tried to push it off till summer. No dice said the House of Representatives. Recently radio went digital but left the old analog method alone. TV could have been handled the same way. But not when you dangle billions in front of they guys in power down in Washington.
It’s somehow fitting that Bob Barker is the guy the government picked to tell you about this. It’s not a big jump from “having your pet spayed or neutered” to castrating TV as we know it. Or then again I could be wrong.

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