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Quite the World, Isn't It?

Digital TV conversion, or how the kitchen went silent

A couple of weeks ago the nation's TV stations went completely digital, dropping the longtime analog system for a digital system that ostensibly frees up airwaves for public safety uses. In general, a good plan. In execution not so much.

I do most of the cooking in our house (when I'm not on the road), and have a small TV on which I watch sports, the news, and the occasional Sunday morning talking-heads show while I work. The TV is older, I think, than our sons, one of those clunky, remote-less 13-inch models that takes up way more space than it needs to.

But it's worked perfectly fine, except for some snow on Channel 2 and a few of the UHF stations, which is understandable -- we live 45 or 50 miles from where most of the Los Angeles TV stations have their antennas.

So now we've been forced into digital land -- and can't get diddly on the set, even with a new antenna and the federally subsidized converter box. I've moved the antenna, re-scanned, moved it again, re-scanned again, but still get hardly any of the major stations, and even those are so weak we get that impromptu stop-action as the screen pixilates and freezes for a few seconds.

There are other sets in the house hooked up to cable so we're not cut off from the world but it has me wondering -- how has this affected low-income, cable-less families in sprawling metro areas like this, or in rural areas?

I have to think this has been a boon for the cable and satellite providers -- I'm contemplating adding a line to the kitchen -- and the phone companies (from whom the government chose not to take bandwidth). But I also have to think a few more ounces of flesh have been taken from the poor. Read More 
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