The Big Switch…Analog to Digital TV Signal Debacle

by Debt Destroyer on September 2, 2008

The ads are everywhere, you can’t escape them.

No, I’m not talking about political ads, I’m referring to the PSA’s for TV’s, the Big Switch. On Feb 17th, 2009 you’ll only be able to receive digital signal which means that old analog TVs that don’t utilize cable or satellite to get a signal will be useless without a converter box.

Luckily for those of us which this effects, the federal government has provided $40 coupons to help ease the financial burden of having to get a box. Go here to apply for a coupon.

We haven’t had cable in the Debt Defier household since early 2001. And to tell you the truth, we hardly miss it. I miss ESPN and HBO and my wife misses TNT & TBS (she loves reruns of sitcoms). I’d love to be able to tell you that it has cut down on our television watching, but I don’t think that the case. We watch plenty of network programming (other than ABC…we don’t get that station very clearly).

Needless to say I was a little nervous about all this talk of converter boxes and digital signal.

I’d really hate to have to start paying to watch TV again. It just makes no sense to me (the airwaves belong to all of us and it’s all ads anyways). Then this summer my in-laws added to my concerns by saying they heard the stores couldn’t keep the converter boxes in stock. My mind quickly filled with images of crazed shoppers going mad over the boxes, much like you see during the holidays for whatever the newest fad is.

So when I heard about the coupon program I signed up right away. It took several weeks to get here, but it finally arrived. I got mine and went right to the store to get me a box.

I went to a locally owned store and I already wish I did some research on these things, cause I ended up spending $31 even with the $40 coupon. But the clerk told me I got a good one. Alright…I dont’ want a bad one.

I rushed home to hook it up. With my recent cancellation of netflix, I was excited to have some digital entertainment in our house (not sure what that means, but I was excited). The excitement quickly dissipated.

I went from being able to get 5 stations to 1 station.

Panic set in and I quickly unhooked everything and tried it again. It got worse…no stations.

You gotta love technology.

When I settled down, I emailed my local stations asking what as up. As of this writing, only two have answered me. One channel uses a low power station to provide analog signal to my town and plans to continue to do so well after the Feb 2009 deadline. They think they will upgrade that channel to digital sometime in 2010. The other channel has informed me that they have no plans to convert our area to digital.

So much for being on top of things.

Now I have to try to unload this box on a buddy of mine who lives in Sioux Falls. I’d try to take it back, but I’m very rough on packaging (big hit at Christmas time, but not so much though with things that need to be returned).

So for you rebels out there that dare to live cable-free, how have your converter boxes been working out for you? Do they actually work if you don’t live in the middle of nowhere?

Or is the “Big Switch” really the “Big Bait & Switch?”

Until next time,