John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Commerce Department Announces No Luddite Left Behind Act

godigital.jpgWith little more than a year to go before television in the states goes all-digital, the federal government is doing its best to make the transition easier for couch potatoes dreading the looming obsolescence of their rabbit-eared sets.

Yesterday, the Commerce Department began accepting applications for $40 coupons to defray the cost of a basic digital-to-analog converter box (expected to sell for between $50 and $70) that will allow older TVs to receive digital broadcast signals. “There is a big change in television coming on Feb. 18, 2009, and people who have old televisions who receive free over-the-air broadcasting, which means they are not hooked up to cable or satellite or another pay-TV service, have to make a decision,” Meredith Atwell Baker, deputy assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told Broadcast Newsroom. “They have three choices. They can buy a new TV that’s digital, they can subscribe to cable or satellite or another service, or they can buy a converter box. Otherwise, their television won’t work.”

The coupons are available on a first-come, first-served basis at And there are about 33 million of them available. Great news for the estimated 26 million households in the United States that have yet to make the jump to digital TV.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus