So long analog TV; it was great knowing you

Isn’t today the big big day for the transition to digital television? You can be forgiven for forgetting — in fact that’s just how the Obama administration wants it.

Ill-prepared back in February, when the U.S. was supposed to go all-digital all the time, the government decided to push back the switchover date by four months. Experts tell the Los Angeles Times that the delay should help avoid major problems, although about 2.8 million people could be left out in the cold when they try to turn on the tube.

The smart folks over at RPA, the advertising agency based in Los Angeles, put together of list of the markets that are best prepared — and those that aren’t. It cited data from The Nielsen Co, which has been studying preparations for the transition.

The best prepared areas, in order: Providence/New Bedford, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Ft. Myers/Naples and Hartford/New Haven. And the least prepared: Albuquerque/Santa Fe, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Sacramento, Seattle/Tacoma, Austin, and Los Angeles.

It could be a good weekend if you own an electronics store in Tacoma.

Keep an eye on:

    Yahoo has hired a new finance chief to help turn right the company — former Altera and General Electric executive Tim Morse (Reuters)
    Scribd gets a boost as Simon & Schuster agrees to add its 5,000 e-book offerings to the site (paidContent)
    Twitter may be struggling to figure out how to make money for itself, but it is already helping Dell chalk up millions of dollars in sales (Reuters)

(Image: Reuters)

CES: Little appetite for delay of DTV deadline

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.

“Delaying the transition in my opinion, you’re just delaying the same problems,” said Emily Neilson, president and general manager of KLAS-TV a Las Vegas CBS affiliate who said that about 7 percent of consumers were still not ready for the change over. She said that while the transfer was not likely to go perfectly, the problems would eventually be ironed out. “I think most of the people waiting on the coupons don’t need the $40 and I’d like to give those to the people who truly need it,” she said.

Henry Hauser, a display product manager for television maker Panasonic said it did not make sense to delay and that the transition would only see isolated snafus. “We feel it would be better to just end the confusion. People are going to delay until they don’t have a picture and then they’ll go get it,” he said. “We feel very strongly it should go forward”

CES: TVs, TVs and… TV zombies

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.

Their heads emblazoned with the logos of TV companies, these “TV zombies” were out on the street taking a break from their first CES protest. Jeffrey Jacoby, one of the zombies, explained that they were members of the Electronics Takeback Coalition, which was demonstrating against the poor gadget recycling practices of consumer electronics manufacturers like LG, Toshiba, Sony and others.

“We’re calling on manufacturers of TVs at CES to take back old products and keep toxic e-waste from coming to haunt us,” said Jacoby, who was dressed in rags and had on white face paint. The Dallas resident works for an environmental non-profit group and came to Vegas along with nearly 40 other people, just to protest.

Obama greenlights analog TV for another season

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.

President-elect Barack Obama is backing a move to delay a mandatory switch to digital TV signals on Feb. 17 because viewers might not be prepared. Also, the government has run out of $40 coupons to help pay for converter boxes.

The idea that as many as 8 million homes (according to Nielsen data) might lose TV reception in a few weeks is not the kind of headache a new White House administration wants to deal with so it’s perhaps not surprising talk of a delay, possibly up to four months, is gathering support.

Digital TV transition tour to hit NASCAR circuit

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.rtx78xz.jpg

On Thursday the Federal Communications Commission decided to take their efforts one step further — to NASCAR. The agency plans to sponsor driver David Gilliland (car #38) for three races of the widely popular spectator sport.

“I believe this sponsorship is an extremely effective way for the FCC to raise DTV awareness among people of all ages and income levels across the United States who loyally follow one of the most popular sports in America,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.