The government mandated switch from analogue to digital broadcasting is already acting like a vice on local TV stations, but it’s going to get worse for them if DC lawmakers decide to delay the switchover by another four months, from February 17 till June.
Until the switchover is complete, TV stations have to broadcast in analogue and digital both — an expensive proposition.
“Our analogue transmitter, the power costs on that are over $10,000 a month,” Alex von Lichtenberg, GM of Boston’s WUNI, told NPR.
“You add four more months at full power, that’s $40,000. Again, in these times, that’s a tough pill to swallow for a small operation like ours.”
Likewise, Vermont Public Television rep Ann Curran told NPR would have cut programming to keep its analogue signal going.
So why are lawmakers even considering the delay? Because 10% of TV viewers remain out of compliance and most of them are either poor or old.
They are people people like Houston’s 77 year-old Vesta Clemmons, who told the New York Times how sad she would be if she lost access to her TV:
“It’s like a friend,” she said in her living room, which is also her dining room and bedroom. “I would feel very isolated without it. I get lonesome anyway.”