Monday, January 26, 2009

Feds fumbled digital transition

Well it looks as if we're in for four more months of those annoying commercials about the imminent changeover to digital TV signals, commercials apparently aimed at people with a room-temperature (in winter! without a furnace!) IQ who are so clueless only the government can get them through this traumatic transition. The Senate passed a bill to delay the changeover and the House is more than likely to go along. The Obamaites have already floated the balloon.

Trouble is, insofar as the transition really is likely to be even mildly traumatic it's because the government decided to handle it through mandates rather than letting the TV stations do it within the context of a competitive marketplace. I talked to Tom Hazlett, who was chief economist at the FCC in the early 1990s and now teaches at George Mason. He says they've been talking about this transition since 1988 (!) and are acting in rough accordance with a law the congresscritters passed in 1996. If the government hadn't decided that only the government could handle this little problem, it probably would have been done years ago and we would never have noticed because it was so smooth.

Did you know the cellphone industry made the switch from analog to digital a few years ago. Did you notice? Was it a big problem? No, because it was handled in the marketplace.

Here's the Register's angry editorial.

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