Monday, March 12, 2007

Conservative Nanny State

Originally uploaded by mikek.
WASHINGTON - Attention owners of primitive TVs: If you still use an antenna to watch "American Idol," your picture will disappear at midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, unless you buy something called a digital converter box.

No one knows how much these boxes, which have yet to be produced, will cost. But the government will help you pay for them, at least until the money runs out.

The reason millions of TVs will be rendered obsolete is a government mandate for broadcasters to convert their signals from old-style analog to new-style digital.

The agency responsible for overseeing distribution of the converter boxes, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, explained Monday how the program is supposed to work.

Every household, regardless of whether it needs a box, will be eligible to receive two coupons worth $40 each that can be used to buy two converter boxes. The coupons must be requested between Jan. 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009.

Congress, in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, set aside $1.5 billion to pay for the coupon program. Initially, $990 million will be used to pay for coupons and cover administrative costs, which are capped at $110 million.

You have to upgrade your TV set, or else. And makers of convert boxes get a ton of money. But the digital cable box we have only play some of the digital channels while others we need to get a digital TV for. Conservative Nanny State.

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