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The US Senate is so concerned about your ability to watch TV, they want to spend 3 billion dollars to ensure your TV still works in 2009 when we switch to digital TV. I suppose 3 billion for schools, shelter, food for the homeless, etc. would have just been insane.
I've thought about this before, not in relation to digital TV, but in relation to losses incurred by the studios due to DVR, downloading, etc. I had thought - why not get rid of free TV? There is no consitutional right to TV. (In fact, I'm sure many people would be more well served to have less TV.) There are only a few shows on the major networks that I would consider paying for and would be more than happy to lose all the rest of the tripe.
So with that being said - why even worry about it? Some would say, what about educational programs and news. First off - the major networks carry a grand total of 30 minutes of news, if you ignore the Sunday "Talking Heads" type shows or the morning shows which are more entertainment than real news. Could we not subsidize newspaper subscriptions instead? Seems like you would get more news, and more activity for your brain.
What about educational programs? There are some good ones on TV, PBS at least, but most educational programs are on cable (Discovery, History Channel, etc.), and be honest, how much viewership does PBS get in the first place? I certainly don't think the government should tell people what to watch - but at the same time, do we need to subsidize people watching the Young and the Restless?
So - with all that being said - what if the major networks decided to do this anyway? Let's say they are tired of DVR units resulting in a loss of ad revune. The big four certainly have the right to just "pull out" and stop broadcasting. They wouldn't, of course, since they still earn a significant amount of money from ad revenue, and with Congress spending 3 billion to ensure they don't lose customers, why would they? Maybe Congress can buy the poor TVs? (Since books would just be insane - again.)
I do see some logic to this. Congress is forcing the upgrade. However, TV is still not a right. The change is still four years away, so it isn't like people will not get to use their TVs. People who can afford a TV, but not the converter, have been warned. A portion of that 3 billion could be used to simply run public service announcements. (I.e., don't buy a new tv if you won't be able to afford the converter.)