A panel at the Consumer Electronics Show, discussing the Feb 17 deadline for a mandatory U.S. switch to a nationwide digital television system, were less than keen on President-Elect Barack Obama’s backing of a proposal for a delay. The idea of postponing was floated amid fears viewers were unprepared and funding problems for a government program to provide $40 coupons for consumers to buy digital-to-analog converters.
I stepped out of the Las Vegas Convention Center yesterday to recover from the brilliant glare of the gazillion TVs on display inside — only to run into another set of boxes on the sidewalk. Okay, they weren’t regular old TVs, but humans wearing black boxes over their heads.
After all the excitement, endless public service announcement ads and electronics retailers salivating over anticipated high-definition TV sales, it turns out that the United States might not be switching to digital television just yet.
Federal regulators and U.S. lawmakers are trying every trick in the book from Web sites to road shows to make sure Americans know that the digital television transition is coming soon — which could mean those without cable or satellite would only see black unless they buy a new television set or get a converter box.