20 October 2005

Free Digital TV Boxes Headed Your Way

Denver is on the lagging end of efforts to convert to digital TV, due to prolonged difficulties in getting zoning approval to replace a huge swarm of TV and radio towers on Lookout Mountain, which provide most of us with broadcast TV and radio in the metro Denver area, with a handful of digital ones. The local residents opposition makes absolutely no sense. The new design is better than the status quo. But, somehow, the entire country is supposed to convert from analog to digital television in 2009. This means that everyone with an analog TV receiving broadcast signals will need a converter box to use their old TV.

I'm a TV laggard. I have neither cable or satellite TV. Under the terms of a pending bill which is likely to pass the Senate, broadcast only television viewers, like me, will receive a $50 subsidy to buy that box in 2009. All I'll have to pay out of pocket is $10. The total program will cost about $3 billion. Hurray for me. But, I'm not entirely sure that this is the best use of scarce public funds. Still, considering that most people who rely on broadcast TV are lower income, and that a means test to weed out people like me would probably cost more money than it saves, I can't say that it is a horrible use of those funds. I feel better if it were paid for by a temporary tax on digital TV purchases or digital TV broadcasters, however.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The grounds for opposition, found in the linked article are that:

"The opponents believe radiation from the broadcast devices increases the risk of cancer. They also raised the issue of public safety if any of the towers collapse.

Lake Cedar Group said the radio frequency levels would decrease if the devices were consolidated on a single tower and offered testimony from a structural engineer that tower collapse is unlikely. If a tower did collapse, the engineer said damage would be limited to property owned by Lake Cedar."

Their fear of radiation simply isn't supported by the facts and the amount of radiation is lower than the status quo.

It is another example of fear and NIMBY at its worst in the zoning process.