Digital TV Converter Coupon Hullaballoo

Categories: TV Business

Written By

January 4th, 2008

converter-box.gifThere have been lots of reports in the media about a rush of requests for digital converter box coupons. [note the helpful countdown to digital TV from the government!]
Implied is that this rush of millions of coupon requests shows how the government is out in front of the big [yet, I believe meaningless] deadline to switch to digital TV in February, 2009. At least that's what the NTIA would have you believe.
Hogwash. I'd bet that most of those requests are coming from speculators that will hope to resell the coupons later on EBay. The people who really need them, the 15 million or so households receiving over the air broadcast television only, are way too unplugged to have responded so quickly to the offer.

UPDATE: Yet another reason it's likely the deadline will be pushed back, even if the word does somehow get out to everyone who needs one there won't be enough converters!

 
  • Robert

    Just so you know, I am a member of one of the 15 million or so households that does not pay for cable or satellite and I have requested the coupons. We’re not all “unplugged”.

  • Robert

    Just so you know, I am a member of one of the 15 million or so households that does not pay for cable or satellite and I have requested the coupons. We’re not all “unplugged”.

  • Robert

    Just so you know, I am a member of one of the 15 million or so households that does not pay for cable or satellite and I have requested the coupons. We’re not all “unplugged”.

  • Robert

    Just so you know, I am a member of one of the 15 million or so households that does not pay for cable or satellite and I have requested the coupons. We’re not all “unplugged”.

  • Rena Moretti

    There is something unsettling about the Government choosing for us how we want to receive broadcasts.

    It will make no actual difference for me since I get everything through cable, but the principle of it (especially in the face of the apparent lack of widespread interest in the population for Hi-Def transmissions) is quite unsettling.

    What’s next? Telling us which lightbulbs we can use to light ourselves? Telling us which toilets to use?

    Oh wait!! all those have already happened!

  • Rena Moretti

    There is something unsettling about the Government choosing for us how we want to receive broadcasts.

    It will make no actual difference for me since I get everything through cable, but the principle of it (especially in the face of the apparent lack of widespread interest in the population for Hi-Def transmissions) is quite unsettling.

    What’s next? Telling us which lightbulbs we can use to light ourselves? Telling us which toilets to use?

    Oh wait!! all those have already happened!

  • Rena Moretti

    There is something unsettling about the Government choosing for us how we want to receive broadcasts.

    It will make no actual difference for me since I get everything through cable, but the principle of it (especially in the face of the apparent lack of widespread interest in the population for Hi-Def transmissions) is quite unsettling.

    What’s next? Telling us which lightbulbs we can use to light ourselves? Telling us which toilets to use?

    Oh wait!! all those have already happened!

  • Rena Moretti

    There is something unsettling about the Government choosing for us how we want to receive broadcasts.

    It will make no actual difference for me since I get everything through cable, but the principle of it (especially in the face of the apparent lack of widespread interest in the population for Hi-Def transmissions) is quite unsettling.

    What’s next? Telling us which lightbulbs we can use to light ourselves? Telling us which toilets to use?

    Oh wait!! all those have already happened!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    Rena, the tricky thing is having cable *doesn’t* necessarily mean you can sit tight.

    If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.

    I don’t have those numbers right at my fingers, but there are A LOT [tens of millions] of people in that position that will need to get a cable box before the switch finally happens.

    Also, and I am absolutely the last person in favor of government intervention in anything [ask Robert], I think the switch to digital is driven by more than just the government. The cable companies use less bandwidth/channel transmitting standard definition digital channels than they do analog channels, so a switch to all digital benefits them.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    Rena, the tricky thing is having cable *doesn’t* necessarily mean you can sit tight.

    If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.

    I don’t have those numbers right at my fingers, but there are A LOT [tens of millions] of people in that position that will need to get a cable box before the switch finally happens.

    Also, and I am absolutely the last person in favor of government intervention in anything [ask Robert], I think the switch to digital is driven by more than just the government. The cable companies use less bandwidth/channel transmitting standard definition digital channels than they do analog channels, so a switch to all digital benefits them.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    Rena, the tricky thing is having cable *doesn’t* necessarily mean you can sit tight.

    If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.

    I don’t have those numbers right at my fingers, but there are A LOT [tens of millions] of people in that position that will need to get a cable box before the switch finally happens.

    Also, and I am absolutely the last person in favor of government intervention in anything [ask Robert], I think the switch to digital is driven by more than just the government. The cable companies use less bandwidth/channel transmitting standard definition digital channels than they do analog channels, so a switch to all digital benefits them.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Rena, the tricky thing is having cable *doesn’t* necessarily mean you can sit tight.

    If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.

    I don’t have those numbers right at my fingers, but there are A LOT [tens of millions] of people in that position that will need to get a cable box before the switch finally happens.

    Also, and I am absolutely the last person in favor of government intervention in anything [ask Robert], I think the switch to digital is driven by more than just the government. The cable companies use less bandwidth/channel transmitting standard definition digital channels than they do analog channels, so a switch to all digital benefits them.

  • David

    “If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.”

    Are you sure about this? I assumed that the cable companies wouldn’t be affected by the switchover and they could continue transmitting channels in the same format they currently do. I understand that over the air analog broadcasts will be going away because the government has control of the airwaves, but I was not under the impression that they were mandating any changes to signals transmitted over cable lines.

  • David

    “If you get analog cable without a cable box [i.e. you plug the coax directly into a TV] you will need to get a cable box from your cableco.”

    Are you sure about this? I assumed that the cable companies wouldn’t be affected by the switchover and they could continue transmitting channels in the same format they currently do. I understand that over the air analog broadcasts will be going away because the government has control of the airwaves, but I was not under the impression that they were mandating any changes to signals transmitted over cable lines.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    David, it’s a bit more complicated than my initial response and timing will differ on a cableco by cableco basis. The end result [whenever it eventually happens] is the same. Direct analog reception of all kinds, either over the air or via analog cable will eventually go away although eventually may be a very long time [but the government is sticking to its dates at this time].

    Here’s the answer directly from the government.

    Will cable customers with analog TVs have to buy or rent a set-top box from their cable company? If so, how much will it cost?

    First, it’s important to know that the February 17, 2009 deadline for the digital television transition only applies to full-power broadcast stations. Cable companies are not required by the government to transition their systems to digital, and can continue to deliver channels to their customers in analog. Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009. The Commission will decide in 2011 whether the requirement should be continued beyond February 17, 2012. This means that customers who receive analog cable service (without a cable set-top box) will be able to continue to do so.

    However, for business reasons (among other things, digital is much more efficient than analog), cable companies may be interested in transitioning their systems from analog delivery to digital delivery. If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box. If the cable company provides the customer with a set-top box, any costs related to it will be determined by the cable company. Therefore, it is recommended that analog cable customers contact their cable company to ask if a set-top box will be needed, when it will be needed, and if there will be a cost.

    It is also important to note that a cable set-top box is different from a digital-to-analog converter box. A digital-to-analog converter box is necessary only for analog televisions that receive their programming over-the-air using a rooftop antenna or “rabbit ears” connected to the set. A digital-to-analog converter box is not necessary for a TV connected to a paid television service such as a cable or satellite TV provider. Information on any set-top boxes needed for a paid service such as cable or satellite should be obtained from the service provider.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    David, it’s a bit more complicated than my initial response and timing will differ on a cableco by cableco basis. The end result [whenever it eventually happens] is the same. Direct analog reception of all kinds, either over the air or via analog cable will eventually go away although eventually may be a very long time [but the government is sticking to its dates at this time].

    Here’s the answer directly from the government.

    Will cable customers with analog TVs have to buy or rent a set-top box from their cable company? If so, how much will it cost?

    First, it’s important to know that the February 17, 2009 deadline for the digital television transition only applies to full-power broadcast stations. Cable companies are not required by the government to transition their systems to digital, and can continue to deliver channels to their customers in analog. Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009. The Commission will decide in 2011 whether the requirement should be continued beyond February 17, 2012. This means that customers who receive analog cable service (without a cable set-top box) will be able to continue to do so.

    However, for business reasons (among other things, digital is much more efficient than analog), cable companies may be interested in transitioning their systems from analog delivery to digital delivery. If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box. If the cable company provides the customer with a set-top box, any costs related to it will be determined by the cable company. Therefore, it is recommended that analog cable customers contact their cable company to ask if a set-top box will be needed, when it will be needed, and if there will be a cost.

    It is also important to note that a cable set-top box is different from a digital-to-analog converter box. A digital-to-analog converter box is necessary only for analog televisions that receive their programming over-the-air using a rooftop antenna or “rabbit ears” connected to the set. A digital-to-analog converter box is not necessary for a TV connected to a paid television service such as a cable or satellite TV provider. Information on any set-top boxes needed for a paid service such as cable or satellite should be obtained from the service provider.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com/ Bill Gorman

    David, it’s a bit more complicated than my initial response and timing will differ on a cableco by cableco basis. The end result [whenever it eventually happens] is the same. Direct analog reception of all kinds, either over the air or via analog cable will eventually go away although eventually may be a very long time [but the government is sticking to its dates at this time].

    Here’s the answer directly from the government.

    Will cable customers with analog TVs have to buy or rent a set-top box from their cable company? If so, how much will it cost?

    First, it’s important to know that the February 17, 2009 deadline for the digital television transition only applies to full-power broadcast stations. Cable companies are not required by the government to transition their systems to digital, and can continue to deliver channels to their customers in analog. Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009. The Commission will decide in 2011 whether the requirement should be continued beyond February 17, 2012. This means that customers who receive analog cable service (without a cable set-top box) will be able to continue to do so.

    However, for business reasons (among other things, digital is much more efficient than analog), cable companies may be interested in transitioning their systems from analog delivery to digital delivery. If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box. If the cable company provides the customer with a set-top box, any costs related to it will be determined by the cable company. Therefore, it is recommended that analog cable customers contact their cable company to ask if a set-top box will be needed, when it will be needed, and if there will be a cost.

    It is also important to note that a cable set-top box is different from a digital-to-analog converter box. A digital-to-analog converter box is necessary only for analog televisions that receive their programming over-the-air using a rooftop antenna or “rabbit ears” connected to the set. A digital-to-analog converter box is not necessary for a TV connected to a paid television service such as a cable or satellite TV provider. Information on any set-top boxes needed for a paid service such as cable or satellite should be obtained from the service provider.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    David, it’s a bit more complicated than my initial response and timing will differ on a cableco by cableco basis. The end result [whenever it eventually happens] is the same. Direct analog reception of all kinds, either over the air or via analog cable will eventually go away although eventually may be a very long time [but the government is sticking to its dates at this time].

    Here’s the answer directly from the government.

    Will cable customers with analog TVs have to buy or rent a set-top box from their cable company? If so, how much will it cost?

    First, it’s important to know that the February 17, 2009 deadline for the digital television transition only applies to full-power broadcast stations. Cable companies are not required by the government to transition their systems to digital, and can continue to deliver channels to their customers in analog. Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009. The Commission will decide in 2011 whether the requirement should be continued beyond February 17, 2012. This means that customers who receive analog cable service (without a cable set-top box) will be able to continue to do so.

    However, for business reasons (among other things, digital is much more efficient than analog), cable companies may be interested in transitioning their systems from analog delivery to digital delivery. If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box. If the cable company provides the customer with a set-top box, any costs related to it will be determined by the cable company. Therefore, it is recommended that analog cable customers contact their cable company to ask if a set-top box will be needed, when it will be needed, and if there will be a cost.

    It is also important to note that a cable set-top box is different from a digital-to-analog converter box. A digital-to-analog converter box is necessary only for analog televisions that receive their programming over-the-air using a rooftop antenna or “rabbit ears” connected to the set. A digital-to-analog converter box is not necessary for a TV connected to a paid television service such as a cable or satellite TV provider. Information on any set-top boxes needed for a paid service such as cable or satellite should be obtained from the service provider.

  • David

    Thanks for the reply. I’m hoping that cable companies (specifically mine) will not be in a rush to drop the analog channels. If they did that, it would make my DVR and the remote control for my TV almost useless since all channel changing would occur in the cable box. Fortunately, it would mean the same thing for a lot of other people, so I think the odds are on my side.

  • David

    Thanks for the reply. I’m hoping that cable companies (specifically mine) will not be in a rush to drop the analog channels. If they did that, it would make my DVR and the remote control for my TV almost useless since all channel changing would occur in the cable box. Fortunately, it would mean the same thing for a lot of other people, so I think the odds are on my side.

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