As a further indication that analog TV is on its way out and digital is in, Best Buy has announced that they have pulled all of the analog TVs they had left off of the store shelves. Just about two months ago at my local Best Buy, they still had a small portion of one aisle dedicated to the analog TVs while flat panel and high definition screens took over aisle upon aisle of space. According to the AP, about a month ago all of the Best Buy stores were told to stop selling those TVs and to use the space for more of the flat panel screens.
The digital switchover already started around the world with Luxembourg being the first country to switch to digital broadcasting on September 1st, 2006. The Netherlands made the switch in December of 2006, while Finland recently made the switch on September 1st, 2007. As Richard points out in the CyberNet Forum, the digital switch over in the UK started yesterday. It’s happening everywhere, so when can we expect it to happen in the U.S.? Technically, the answer is “no later than February 17, 2009″ which is the date that has been ordered by the FCC, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change. Let me explain…
An article that I recently came across written by a columnist for MSNBC back on April 24,2005 read: “Television as we know it may end at exactly midnight Dec. 31, 2006. That’s the date congress targeted, a decade ago, for the end of analog television broadcasting and a full cut-over to a digital format.” Well, December 31st 2006 came and went, and we still have analog TV. Perhaps this was due in part to the 70 million TV sets at the time that were still using rabbit-ears or a roof-top antenna? If so, we still haven’t made much progress because the recent statistic tells us that more than 60 million TVs in the U.S. still rely on an analog method.
This time around, I’m thinking that the February 2009 date will be enforced. People have had sufficient time to do something about this, and for those who don’t want to/can’t afford to go out and buy a new TV, the government will be giving them coupons so that they can buy a converter box which Best Buy will start selling early in 2008. The FCC also recently ruled that cable operators must make the local broadcasts available to their subscribers, even if they have analog TV, until 2012. According to Wikipedia, the FCC will review the case at that point, and they could decide to extend that date even further.