Pick three


We’re noticing that more than a few local television stations celebrated 2/17/08 by pointing out that it marks the official 366-day leap year countdown to the end of analog television. This can be taken as a strong sign that local television operators are not taking the transition lying down.

To take just one example, CBS WTAJ-TV in Altoona PA explained the situation in a way that most of its viewers should be able to understand. It told viewers that if they have a cable or satellite subscription they have no worries; and antenna-users have three basic options. (1). Buy a new digital television set, starting at about 500 dollars a pop right now. (2). Buy a converter box for your analog television set, at about 50-70 dollars a pop, and used its website to direct viewers to the government 40 dollar coupon site; or (3) subscribe to cable or satellite.

TVBR/RBR observation: The Consumers Union is concerned that citizens who need to make a change will not fully understand the cost implications of their various options, and that profit-motivated players in the MVPD and retail businesses will be on the prowl for as many upsales as possible. On the other hand, WTAJ was able to put the dollars right on the table without much fuss. The trick will be to keep these messages coming, so that those viewers who avoid the news like the plague will also get the word.