"Look, two million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. Losing your TV signal for a couple of days because you waited too long and didn't get it. This is not the end of the world. There are bigger issues, let's focus on them." That's what the president of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro, said to me in an interview before Congress passed the delay for the analog to digital switchover. And while there are plenty of people who agree with him, there are countless others -- maybe millions -- who could be left without a reliable source of news when as many as 600 broadcasters move ahead with the transition anyway this Tuesday, Feb. 17. We'll have the story tonight on the CBS Evening News.
It's a process that's been in the works for many years, partly to free up more of the spectrum for emergency communications. But accusations that the switchover program was mismanaged -- from the converter boxes to the coupons to buy them -- plagued its final months and weeks. That prompted Congress to vote for a delay with the conversion to June 12. This past week, President Obama signed it into law -- with some provisions.
But many stations in smaller communities plan to move forward Tuesday regardless, saying they're ready to go and, especially in this economy, can't afford to keep both the analog and digital signals in place for another four months. What does this mean for people living in those areas? I hope you'll watch our story tonight.
Clearly, this entire situation is causing confusion for some people, as evidenced by this popular YouTube clip. And it's debatable whether the switchover is ready for prime time. But the pace of progress continues, even if some folks will need to change channels.
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