But Obama's people are on it:
Now, I was mostly joking about the rebate coupon thing--we really ought to buy a new TV, as ours is about 15 years old and has had some interesting sound issues that might mean we'll only squeeze another year or so out of it, anyway. But this is a serious question: why is it the job of the federal government to subsidize television viewing?
Echoing concerns from consumer groups, Mr. Podesta said that the Obama transition staff has found major difficulties in the transition, which was authorized by Congress in 2005. On Feb. 17, stations are scheduled to cease their analog transmissions and broadcast only in digital form, requiring consumers without a digital-ready TV who rely on over-the-air signals to install converter boxes.
Major broadcasters, including ABC and NBC, have signaled that they support a delay. In a statement, NBC called the administration’s move “prudent and well-considered.” CBS said in a statement it was open to the suggestion.
Earlier this week the president of PBS, Paula Kerger, “said she’s especially concerned that children in less-affluent homes that rely on free television might lose access to PBS educational shows for kids,” including “Sesame Street,” the Associated Press reported.
Millions of television viewers would be affected by the switch. In December, Nielsen Media Research estimated that 7.8 million households, representing 6.8 percent of homes with television, have not upgraded any of their television sets for the transition. Those homes would be unable to receive any TV signals after the switch. Subscribers to cable or satellite television will not be affected by the transition.The administration’s statement will put new pressure on Congress to delay the end of analog broadcasting. The move comes as the government’s $1.3 billion coupon program to subsidize the cost of converter boxes has run out of funds, placing more than one million requests for coupons on a waiting list.
Is television viewing a necessity? Do TVs get a mention in the Bill of Rights, or anywhere else in the Constitution? Does the government have to step in when technology is upgraded to make sure people can still tune in--yes, even to PBS?
We use the phrase "bread and circuses" to refer to a situation in which people stop caring about their duties toward a society, and instead chose leaders who promise them cheap food and entertainment. The quote comes from Roman author Juvenal, who wrote:
… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.In her novel about St. Luke titled Dear and Glorious Physician, author Taylor Caldwell wrote something to the effect that any resemblance between modern-day America and decadent Ancient Rome was purely historical. Watching the newly-elected President's transition team rush to assure American voters that whatever else happens, they'll still have access to their favorite TV shows, I can't help but think the good lady was on to something.