week, the federal government moved forth with allowing public airwaves
to be transitioned from the analog transmission to the newer, advanced
digital forms of communication transmission. Now understand, we
all must realize that everything must change. NOTHING remains the
same. The advancement of technology has changed everything about
television, making them larger, thinner and more crystal clear.
The only thing that hadn’t changed was how the transmission of television
government told everyone that the change was coming. This was bigger
than the cry, “The British are coming, The British are coming.”
It was bigger than crying “wolf” or the floods or the tornadoes
and other forms of natural or manmade disasters. The government
warned that if you didn’t go out to buy a digital transmission receiver
box, you would be without television. For real? Like all warnings,
many choose not to comply. For good reason this time; one, we’re
in a national depression, two-we’re in the midst of two wars, three-supply
of transmission boxes was a concern.
Bush was ready to press this transition from analog to digital at
the beginning of the year. Then President-elect Obama asked for
a delay to get the nation better educated and better prepared for
(what they called) “the switch.” Yet, when “t-day” (transmission
day) hit June 12th, much of America was no more better educated
or ready for this switch. Millions of people were caught looking
at a blank screen on “t-day” because they didn’t buy the box and
no remedy if they had no money. So, the last free thing that we
can all access, television, is no longer free.
is the GREAT socializer of our society. Americans are television
“junkies.” In 1960, only two-thirds of the nation had one television
in their home. Less than five percent of the nation had a second
television in their home. Forty years later, by the turn of the
century, Ninety-eight percent of American homes had a television
in the home. Seventy percent of American homes have a second television.
Half the nation’s homes have three or more “televisions” in their
home. Even people who claim they don’t watch television, have multiple
televisions in their homes. We now have televisions in our cars
and on our wrists and in our i-pods. Television is the maker and
fashioner of our popular culture. It is our national alert system
in time of emergency and call for immediate action as it is the
nation’s primary form of communication (as radio once was). It is
the most common tie between the people and the government. Television
serves as the public’s leading source for information, entertainment
and even serves as our mate in the late night as one in six Americans
fell asleep by the television (one in eight leave it on all night).
is many a person’s one and only friend. It is the country’s last
threat between the rich and the poor, and the privileged and the
underprivileged, the powerful and the weak. In fact, when the powerful
want to reach the weak, they use television to reach out. It is
our baby-sitter, as poor people use television to entertain and
pacify themselves and their children. And, of course, television
is economic enough to consume as much as one wants, for as long
as one want, because it is free. Or it was free.
here’s some questions that address the political and economic realities
of this switch; One, did anyone bother to explain to the American
people why the “switch” was necessary? Two, was it necessary or
was it optional? If it was necessary, why did not the government
GIVE the transmission boxes to the American people? Who made
the boxes? Who got the contract to make a BILLION boxes for the
over one billion televisions in the United States (easy if half
of the nation’s 200 million households have three or more televisions)?
How much were those contracts? Why did the government subsidize
(give discount coupons) to only a limited number of residents? What
will happen to the millions of people who cannot afford the transmission
boxes (even with the coupon)? What is the real benefit here, or
was this one last economic benefit for the exiting Bush capitalists?
timing was real strange, and the sense of urgency seemed more pretentious
than real. Do the boxes have a lifetime guarantee, or do the American
people now have to buy these boxes every three to five years, or
more troubling buy free channels from their cable companies? And
what if you don’t have or can’t afford cable? Then you have no choice
but to buy the box. And t.v. is no longer free. Now we don’t only
have to worry about what’s on the television, but whether we can
get television at all.
next? Paying for radio? Probably. One thing we know for sure, nothing
is free anymore. Not even television.
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director
of the Urban Issues Forum
and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website
is AnthonySamad.com. Click here
to contact Dr. Samad.