Well, it’s finally here. Anyone without cable, satellite, digital TV set or converter box woke up to the hiss and crackle of electronic snow instead of Matt and Merideth. Between 1.75 and 2.8 million households are unprepared, according to estimates reported this morning in the Wall Street Journal and cable trade Multichannel News.
For some reason, Albuquerque-Santa Fe is the most “unprepared” city, where according to the Nielsen Co., 7.6 percent are unready.
Now I’m willing to bet that by Monday, one-quarter to one-half of these “unprepared” homes will be retrofitted. Expect a good many in Pittsburgh and Detroit to have doneso by tonight, as the Penguins and the Red Wings face off in game seven of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final. Rep. John Dingall (D.-MI) even sent constituents an email reminder yesterday, a move that might prove far more effective than all the $2 billion that Uncle Sam, broadcasters, cable and telecom companies have spent on publicizing and aiding the transition.
That funding included allotment of two $40 vouchers per household to purchase DTV converters. By way of anecdote, I have seen the boxes for sale at Best Buy and even the local supermarket priced at $40, effectively nullifying any consumer cost for the change.
President Obama also delayed the switchover, originally slated for February, to give stragglers some slack. Still, as Multichannel News reported, the usual bureaucratic handwringing continued up to yesterday. But face it, people who have not made the transition by now are simply procrastinators (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or simply don’t watch TV. It’s no big deal.