Digital TV Transition: Not Y2K

In February 2009, all over-the-air analog TV broadcasting will be shut off. Some observers are concerned that consumers aren't acutely aware of the coming changes, resulting in massive disruption of the TV experience on the day of the analog broadcasting shut off.

Maybe not. The only potentially-affected customers are those who rely solely on over-the-air signal reception. Customers of cable, satellite or telco TV services won't have to do anything. To be sure, cable, satellite or telco TV providers will have to supply a new digital decoder if one is not already in place. But the point is that the providers will take care of their own customers, and that's 85 percent to 90 percent of all TV viewers.

Of those customers who have over-the-air connections, those who have bought TVs with digital tuners will not notice anything other than universally-better pictures. So the real issue lies with a single-digits number of viewers who have analog-only tuners.

By the time the transition nears, every mass market electronics retailer will have taken steps to push the sale of digital decoders. So this will not be anything like a feared "Y2K" event.
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