February 7, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Digital deadline? Never mind!

For well over a year, the American public has been bombarded with TV advertisements warning them to get ready for the transition to digital television by February 17, 2009. Well, some people have just not been paying attention, it seems, and the government ran short of money for the digital converter coupon program. (George Will dubbed that the "No Couch Potato Left Behind Act." smile) In any event, Congress has tried to alleviate the confusion by extending the deadline for another four months. The Washington Post reports:

Additional money for the coupon program is included in the stimulus package making its way through Congress. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communication, Technology and the Internet, said yesterday that the funds would not be available for several weeks.

One results of this is that local TV stations will have to keep both analog and digital signals on the air, wasting costly electricity at a time when everyone is talking about saving energy! It's a classic example of an "unfunded mandate." Ironically, the net effect of this deadline extension will be to create even more confusion. And so, I have modified the "countdown clock" on the Science & Technology blog page, and further modifications may become necessary in the future.