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How government works
Posted by: McQ on Friday, February 15, 2008

A wonderful example is digital TV.

On August 8th, 2002, the FCC unilaterally voted to mandate that any large-screen (36-inch or larger) TV you buy after the year 2004 be equipped with a digital tuner and that all TVs have digital tuners by 2007. The vote was 3-1.

Guess who loved it?
The broadcast industry is thrilled because it means they can finally garner an audience for their digital TV signals. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) isn't so happy because many of its members don't want the added expense of equipping TVs with digital tuners. The CEA has estimated that digital tuners could add as much as $250 per set, though the National Association of Broadcasters (which represents TV networks and stations) says that that is a highly inflated figure, citing a study from Arthur D. Little that says the retail price of such tuners will be only about $16 by 2006.
Once it is determined that the 85% threshold of homes with digital tuners has been reached, the FCC has mandated that the analog spectrum should go dark.

And those 15% without digital TVs? Well, that brings us to step 2 of how government works.

First the headline:
Digital TV Shift Affects Minorities Most
How do we know this? We did a study:
The Nielsen Co. survey released Friday estimates that more than 13 million households in the U.S. receive television programming over the air on non-digital sets, meaning they will need converter boxes. Another 6 million households contain at least one television that fits that description.

Nielsen researchers found that 10.1 percent of all households would have no access to television signals if the transition occurred today. Broken down by race, 8.8 percent of whites would be unready; 11.7 percent of Asians; 12.4 percent of blacks; and 17.3 percent of Hispanics.

By age, of those 35 and younger, 12.3 percent rely solely on over-the-air broadcasts. Of those age 55 and older, 9.4 percent fall into that category.
Ah, so we have a mandate which no one but 4 people voted on. And we have a problem which effects about 13 million families who will see their precious TVs go dark.

Thankfully they are mostly minorities, which makes the solution much easier to sell. We certainly don't want our illegal guests to be unable to access TV. How will they learn English? And besides everyone knows that TV is a right (you know, like health care and all that other stuff).

The solution, to this government made problem is, of course, just as easy:
The government is accepting requests for coupons to subsidize the cost of converter boxes for those who need them. Each household is eligible for two coupons worth $40 apiece, regardless of whether they have pay-television service or not. To request a coupon, consumers can apply online at http://www.dtv2009.gov or call the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).

The coupons expire three months from issue. Boxes are expected to be available in the next week at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack and other retailers. They are expected to range in price from $40 to $70.
Yup - stick old Joe Taxpayer with the mandate bill while ensuring those who enjoyed a perfectly good TV prior to the mandate can continue to watch TV on his dime, as is their right, while the broadcast industry, which benefits most but pays nothing, chortles in its latte. I mean, it is always nice when you can get government to mandate the market change and stick someone else with the bill, isn't it?

End of lesson.
 
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I recall the discovery they had done this a while back, and being a cheap SOB with analog tv’s that, to me, appeared to work just fine, I wondered how all this would ultimately play out and wondered why the government was insisting that people be forced to buy new sets (by virtue of the tech move).

Now, I see, it worked pretty much the way I expected, except I didn’t anticipate the subsidy to help the people we forced off the old working sets.
What a knuckle head I was.

And seriously, do we want these same people madating our health care?

Create a problem then offer a crappy solution - our government at work.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Once it is determined that the 85% threshold of homes with digital tuners has been reached, the FCC has mandated that the analog spectrum should go dark.
Not exactly dark.
Yup - stick old Joe Taxpayer with the mandate bill
Not exactly Joe taxpayer footing the bill

FCC’s Spectrum Auction Approaches $20B in Bids

All that spectrum is being sold to wireless providers, and this is a potential boon to consumers, because this spectrum has a longer range, and can more easily pass through walls and other obstacles that block current signals used for wireless devices.

The total funding for the coupon program is less than $100 million, so this is actually GOOD for taxpayers, and consumers, as the government will have an extra $20B in revenues for the cost of $100M in coupons and consumers will get better service.
Create a problem then offer a crappy solution - our government at work.
As you can see, this is a rare example of solving a problem, and increasing revenues without increasing taxes.

End of lesson
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
This was essentially part of the HDTV switch which was mandated in the mid-90’s. The Consumer Electronics industry was as much responsible for it as anyone. In fact, the thing at burns me is that the format was from Japan in the 80’s. No thought given to the future technology or integration with Computers. In fact the later was deliberately avoided. Just in time for the HD market in Asia (particularly Japan) to go flat or end as they move to a better standard, they can use those plants to make us obsolete technology and charge big dollars as new.

But what was unknown to most at the time was that cable could get away with gouging people indefinitely for transmitting information in a different format over essentially the same wire infrastructure with a one-time cost of new transmitting equipment.

monopolies suck.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The CEA has estimated that digital tuners could add as much as $250 per set, though the National Association of Broadcasters (which represents TV networks and stations) says that that is a highly inflated figure ...
It may be an inflated figure, but I have noticed that it’s hard to find a television under $100. Even 13" models are around $100, whereas they used to be $60-$70.
 
Written By: Bill Ramey
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com
A year from Sunday, the analog spectrum goes dark.

Frankly, I’ve been amazed at just how all of this is being kept so low key.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Frankly, I’ve been amazed at just how all of this is being kept so low key.
Chances are, cable or satellite would come before paying for internet access, so essentially, the people who be voicing concern about this, are unaware, and/or, they have no way to voice their opinion.

Personally, I am looking forward to the new uses of this spectrum, since I have absolutely no need for the old spectrum. If I need anything vital and the cable is out, there’s always my DSL, or at last resort, radio. At least until that analog spectrum is sold off too.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"World to end tomorrow... Poor and Minorities hardest Hit"T

That snark aside, there are a few mitigating points in this case, that you don’t touch on, Bruce.

For one thing, the vast majority of sets will not be useless, given that they are already tied to cable set top boxes and have been for years. According to reports I’ve seen just recently only about 15% of American households do not have cable, or Satalite delivery. PAW, 85% of people watching TV are all set when the NTSC transmitters go dark next year.

Moreover the new picture format standards will not affect those TV’s which are cable equipped, since the cable will be doing the conversion for them.

And Bill; comparing prices of HD equipped sets versus the old style is like comparing new CD prices to what you’ll find in the cutout rack. The prices have been pused to an artificially low level due to the new standards coming on. Compare them to the prices of high-end sets from a few years ago... (Which cannot hope to compete with the currently sold HD tops) and you’ll get soemthing a little more accurate.

I don’t deny the government flubbed this one. The style of failure here reminds me of whne they moved the FM band from 44-49 mhz to where it is now. The difference of course being, that the old FM sets were utterly useless after the transition, whereas existing NTSC sets will work just fine, thank you, with a cable downlink.

Are you guys still running DOS 3?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Each household is eligible for two [converter box] coupons worth $40 apiece... They are expected to range in price from $40 to $70.
Minus the government-supplied, taxpayer-paid coupons, the converter boxes would no doubt cost (much) less than $30 each.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
So, CS, tell us how the wireless providers will raise $20 billion?

They’ll pay for it by charing their consumers higher prices. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You cannot expect government to get "extra revenue" from businesses, and not expect it to take away from the rest of the economy. You may not call it a tax, but businesses will have to recoup the billions somehow, by charging their customers more. Take the Payments In Lieu Of Taxes system in NYC, which Mayor Bloomberg touted as capable of paying for projects without raising taxes. As I say, Bastiat would tell Bloomberg, "Stop talking merde, and call a tax a tax!"

Now, if this spectrum were really so much better for wireless providers, were it not for the federal government arbitrarily deciding who gets what frequency, then the free market would have already solved this. Wireless providers would have negotiated with broadcast networks, if it were feasible. What’s the price? Who knows, but only the free market can properly decide that. Government bureaucrats merely pull numbers out of their butts.

Now if the free market would have determined that the spectrum is worth more than $20 billion, then wireless providers got a great deal. Their customers got a benefit while everyone else was shafted. And all taxpayers are getting shafted, because we’re paying for others’ converters.

If the free market would have determined that the spectrum is worth less than $20 billion, then it’s the wireless providers and their customers who are getting shafted. And all taxpayers are still getting shafted by paying for others’ converters.

In this reality, only government can step in and force this lunacy upon us. I have cable, yet I’m still being shafted as described in the above two paragraphs.
 
Written By: Perry Eidelbus
URL: http://eidelblog.blogspot.com
Dude, the Broadcast Industry so totally earned those lattes profits.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
So, CS, tell us how the wireless providers will raise $20 billion?
It’s not a tax, so neither they, nor you as a consumer, are being forced to pay for it. (isn’t that kind of a qualification for something to be a tax, the involuntary element)

I assume you think it should be given away???

Think of it like land owned by the federal government. If oil is discovered on it, do you think it should be GIVEN to an oil company, or do you think they should pay for the land?

And if they pay for the land, are you going to whine about the cost of that land increasing the price of your gasoline?

These are investments that the wireless companies have BID UP to $20B. Do you think they went from $4B to $20B with their arms twisted? No, the market indicates that the wireles providers can profit from these additional spectrums.
What’s the price? Who knows, but only the free market can properly decide that. Government bureaucrats merely pull numbers out of their butts.
The free market IS deciding the price, genius, if you had even glanced at the article about this issue, you would have seen from the headline, and the first paragraph, that these spectras were subject to bidding.
If the free market would have determined that the spectrum is worth less than $20 billion, then it’s the wireless providers and their customers who are getting shafted. And all taxpayers are still getting shafted by paying for others’ converters.
The free market is deciding, so the price is right, so your entire diatribe is baseless, pointless, and ill-conceived. It’s not like you had to do research, but the tiniest amount of clueing yourself in would have helped prevent you from embarassing yourself this badly.
In this reality, only government can step in and force this lunacy upon us. I have cable, yet I’m still being shafted as described in the above two paragraphs.
I remember you now, the guy who shut off posting on his after 2 posts because you were losing an argument about oil companies documented desire to reduce refinery output.

Well, you are wrong again, about your first point, second point, and the conclusion you drew from these erroneous points.
Dude, the Broadcast Industry so totally earned those lattes profits.
Don’t call him dude, a dude is a guy that works on a ranch, he is Officer Salvatore Rivieri of the Baltimore PD.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"the FCC has mandated that the analog spectrum should go dark."

"All that spectrum is being sold to wireless providers,"

I think I see. Another example of eminent domain.


" this is a potential boon to consumers"

Not to consumers of analog television.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I think I see. Another example of eminent domain.

No. Simply spectrum management. Which, as I recall is what the FCC is supposed to be doing.

In eminent domain, private property is taken over. In this case publicly owned spectrum is re-deployed as the technology changes, as it often has been in other situations.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
It’s not a tax, so neither they, nor you as a consumer, are being forced to pay for it. (isn’t that kind of a qualification for something to be a tax, the involuntary element)
As Bastiat would say, you’re looking only at what is seen. You fail to consider what is not seen, namely broadcasters who will be prevented from using the airwaves, and people forced to upgrade their technology against their will (which will be paid for by others, which is all right with you, apparently?).

Of course wireless providers will bid a price. The game they’re pressured into is mere rent seeking, but it can also turn into a dollar auction. Regardless, their consumers in the end will necessarily pay higher prices. Call a tax a tax, and stop talking merde.

You do realize other uses of "tax," whether as a verb or adjective, don’t you? And why it’s so descriptive of government’s version?
I assume you think it should be given away???
Not at all, so you can stop the old liberal trick of putting words into my mouth.

What I do think is that free markets should have decided who uses the spectrum. Negotiations are inherently not arbitrary, unlike the idiotic bureaucrats you idolize who simply decide, "You, you can have this. You, you can have that..."
Think of it like land owned by the federal government.
The federal government shouldn’t own land, other than what’s required for its buildings. That’s one of many problems with federal jurisdiction: land ownership enjoyed by the few, paid for by the many. But I don’t expect you to understand that.
If oil is discovered on it, do you think it should be GIVEN to an oil company, or do you think they should pay for the land?

And if they pay for the land, are you going to whine about the cost of that land increasing the price of your gasoline?
Entirely different matter. If you knew anything about supply and demand, you’d realize that if land is sold which can be tapped for oil, global oil supplies are increased. Because oil is a fungible commodity, all oil users are benefited.

In this case, the government is auctioning off a far more finite resource which doesn’t have anywhere near the return. Any benefits, provided

In fact, I’ve long advocated what Andrew Jackson said about the Bank of the United States: "why should not the Government sell out the whole stock and thus secure to the people the full market value of the privileges granted?"
These are investments that the wireless companies have BID UP to $20B. Do you think they went from $4B to $20B with their arms twisted? No, the market indicates that the wireles providers can profit from these additional spectrums.
The free market IS deciding the price, genius, if you had even glanced at the article about this issue, you would have seen from the headline, and the first paragraph, that these spectras were subject to bidding.
And already you resort to insults. Tsk tsk. Of course, you fool, I saw that there’s bidding. How do you think prices fundamentally work everywhere, but by auction? Don’t be so small-minded to think that auctions are only where you hold up signs. It’s the reverse that’s the norm: when you buy from a retail store, for example, it’s a seller offering a price that you can accept or decline. If not enough people buy, the seller offers a lower price.

However, do not confuse prices with the free market. There can be prices in a non-free market situation. In this case, the free market isn’t present at all. The government decided it has exclusive ownership to said spectrum, and it’s renting it out to the highest bidder.

If this were the free market, it would have been private parties negotiating with each other over private property. Just because you have "buyers" and "sellers" doesn’t make it the free market. If everything is not purely voluntary, it’s not the free market.
The free market is deciding, so the price is right, so your entire diatribe is baseless, pointless, and ill-conceived. It’s not like you had to do research, but the tiniest amount of clueing yourself in would have helped prevent you from embarassing yourself this badly.
Like I said, twit, there’s no free market at work here. It’s not like you had to do any real thinking about this, instead of making your pathetic attempt at refutation, based on ignorance of simple definitions, not to mention evading the fundamental issues, that makes virtually everyone here think you’re the idiot you truly are. From the occasional comments I read, not many bother to reply to you. They don’t wish to waste their time. I probably shouldn’t have, now or before.
I remember you now, the guy who shut off posting on his after 2 posts because you were losing an argument about oil companies documented desire to reduce refinery output.
Yawn. Is that the best you can do? I rarely have time to read comments, let alone follow up on any threads in which I posted, which is why I didn’t finish the conversation. I didn’t even know you replied. But if you’d like, we can continue that too — URL, please?
Well, you are wrong again, about your first point, second point, and the conclusion you drew from these erroneous points.
As always, you’re spewing off the same vacuous drivel that you’re right, everyone who disagrees is wrong, and you offer no basis for it.

And in all your blathering, you still didn’t address the point that I’m paying for everyone else’s converter.
 
Written By: Perry Eidelbus
URL: http://eidelblog.blogspot.com
Don’t call him dude, a dude is a guy that works on a ranch, he is Officer Salvatore Rivieri of the Baltimore PD.
And I literally coudn’t respect his authoritay more.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
And in all your blathering, you still didn’t address the point that I’m paying for everyone else’s converter.
Wow, and I thought you had embarassed yourself before.

I’ll just let the posts stand as they are.

Readers can make up their minds
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Uh yeah, Perry... you’re off your rocker there. If the wireless companies expect to profit off of buying the frequencies, what costs would they be passing along to customers? If anything, it’d be a price drop, but then again, you’d have to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about to understand that. You should give up before you embarrass yourself more.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://
What is the digital TV (DTV) transition?

The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV (DTV) transition. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. Later, Congress mandated that February 17, 2009 would be the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog. Broadcast stations in all U.S. markets are currently broadcasting in both analog and digital. After February 17, 2009, full-power television stations will broadcast in digital only.
Let’s make it real clear here. This was mandated by Congress, not by the FCC.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://

 
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