Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of delaying the scheduled February 17 switchover from analog to digital broadcasting. If the House of Representatives follows suit, President Obama will sign the bill into law, pushing back DTV-day until June 12. But such a move will do nothing to assist folks like Michael Tietze, who's at the center of the January 22 Message column "The Digital Conversion Will Leave Some Coloradans in the Dark." Tietze has received analog-TV signals for twenty years at his home, located four and a half miles up the road to Mount Evans from Idaho Springs. However, he probably won't get the digital equivalent due to changes in the signal pattern put in place amid a long-running legal battle between a consortium of Denver stations and neighborhood groups on Lookout Mountain, where the main digital tower is located.
Of course, Colorado presents other TV-reception challenges, mostly due to rugged terrain. Thanks to these issues, digital transition is more technically complicated -- and problematic -- here than in almost any other state in the union. As evidence, check out a series of maps available at FCC.gov, the official website of the Federal Communications Commission. They estimate that the digital signals for many stations won't reach as far as the analog versions, leaving many locations on the fringes of the patterns with no reception whatsoever. Since purchasing a converter box like the one seen here won't do impacted individuals any good, free TV will be a thing of the past for them as soon as the digital move is made. Congressional action may put off that day by almost four months, but it won't do so forever.
To access a PDF file featuring the maps, click here. Be patient: It'll take a few seconds to see the scale of the anticipated difficulties.
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Update, 1:23 p.m.: A helpful commenter notes that a short time ago, the House of Representatives voted against delaying the analog-to-digital switch. Read this New York Times account for more details. If the bill isn't revived between now and February 17, Michael Tietze and other Coloradans will have some potentially unpleasant decisions to make less than three weeks from now. -- MR