Remembering Analog Television
July 18, 2008 2:51 PM
As I write this, there are only 215 days until television broadcasting as we have known it will fade to black for the last time.
My hope is that television stations across the country will give analog television the final send off that it so dearly deserves. I ask that they celebrate the passing of analog television as we would the 4th of July, or the passing of another year. Have a good old New Orleans funeral for it. May they mourn its loss, but celebrate its life. May they all reflect on the medium that has brought us so far. From those first experimental grainy images shown at the World's Fair in New York in 1936, to Howdy Doody, to Kaptain Kangaroo. From royal weddings transmitted from across the Atlantic to the first U.S. manned space flights. From presidential debates to daily game shows. From rock and roll's bad boys The Rolling Stones to the Osmond Brothers. From triumph at the Olympics to tragedies too many to count not only here but abroad. From televangelists to hawkers of the pocket fisherman. The Advent of color. The addition of stereo sound.
No matter how we look at it, television brought us the world. It made us laugh at Lucy and cry as the Challenger shuttle broke apart. Sometimes the picture was clear. Sometimes it was fuzzy. Sometimes it rolled, and sometimes there were ghosts in our living room. But it was always there. We could depend on it. It never left us. As of now, it is not even on life support. Its days are numbered. Literally. I will miss it and I think from what I have observed on the original forum and here on the blog, there are a lot of you out there that will miss it too.
I once heard that the only thing constant in life is change. And change, baby, she is a-coming.
Yes there are things to celebrate about the switch to digital. There are multiple sub-channels. High definition video. Surround sound. But what good are they if you don't receive it?
What is going to happen when the first small town in Kansas or Nebraska gets wiped off of the map and there was no warning because the only television station was 75 miles away, and they could not get the weather warnings like they used to with analog TV? This is a serious overlook of congress that needs to be addressed. I believe that there is a viable and simple solution for it.
Channels 2 through 6 in the VHF low range are not really suitable for digital broadcasting. TV engineers are running from them like the plague. What once was extremely valuable real estate in the TV spectrum is now worth about as much as Baltic and Mediterranean are in the Monopoly game.
So what should we do?
I think the answer would be to take existing TV stations with these channels and form an alliance that would keep one analog VHF Low station on air in each of the existing markets. Maybe they could air community information 24/7. News and weather, until there is a need to use it for emergency information. I only count 66 VHF low band digital television stations in the U.S. That is less than 2 per state. And as far as I know, they would not interfere with the new emergency two-way communications band that was created from channels 52 through 69 in the UHF band. I would not want to live in Tornado Alley and not be able to see the weather updates. Is this something to consider?
I know that all is not lost on the digital transition at this point in time. But sometimes I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness in trying to get people to think about the end of analog broadcasting. Yeah, all will be fine and dandy if you get your converter box, bring it home, and hook it up and never skip a beat. But those stories are few and far between. Don't wait until Feb. 18, 2009 and think you are going to run out at lunchtime to pick up a converter and bring it home and be in front of the TV for the 5 o'clock news. It probably is not going to happen. Get set up now so we can work the bugs out together.