"Analog Funeral" Eulogy
San Antonio, Texas
By Chuck Robinson
"Tonight, our FOX29 and MY35 stations in San Antonio change their
broadcast from analog to digital, meaning people watching over-the-air tv
need a converter box to attach to their antenna in order to keep watching
those channels. Although the date’s pushed back to June 12 for all
stations to broadcast digitally, there’s still work left so no one’s left
From its’ birth on April 7, 1927, when the first images flashed from
Washington, D.C. to New York City on an iPod-sized screen, the analog
television broadcast has brought news and information to people worldwide.
Today, we gather as media activists to read analog tv her last rites, and
reflect upon the state of “our” airwaves.
The scientists performing that first US tv test were from AT&T Bell
Labs--remember ‘Ma Bell’, which was broken up and over time, reformed as
the modern at&t? Yes, the same at&t sitting atop an empire that raked in
$118 Billion in 2007, second only to GE in media revenue. TV, radio and
internet are big business, and there’s much money made and lost in the
battle over our airwaves.
Remember the airplane banners flying overhead, urging you to use Time
Warner or at&t? Ads assuring San Antonio that cable is “all you need”
(don’t forget to ‘go for three’!)? What about those who drop the luxury of
cable tv--they’ll need converter boxes as well. And other local stations
could switch to digital any time the city sees fit between now and June,
leaving our communities with questions as we continue to struggle for
access to information.
As it stands now, many of our nation’s low-income, elderly and non-English
speaking population aren’t ready for the digital transition: either
unprepared, waiting for converter box coupons, searching for the right box
at an affordable price, and/or struggling to hook them up. Pushing back
the transition date four months gives us time to say goodnight to lady
analog, and give her a just burial, but only if we work together.
Only community groups, government and retailers working together will
ensure that people have the civil...no, the human right to information.
Retailers must stock an analog pass-through, SAP and Closed
Caption-enabled converter box. Federal government must deploy coupons to
everyone who needs one, reaching further than the internet. Local
governments and community groups must unite with retailers to ensure boxes
priced at $40; we applaud HEB for giving us access to those.
From the Civil Rights movement to Afghanistan, tv has the ability, more
than any other medium, to reach into the homes of Americans and
communicate our triumphs as well as our sorrows. How well-informed would
we be without tv? Perhaps a better question to ask is: ‘How informed are
we now?’ 70% of Americans still rely on tv as their primary source of
national and international news; it is for this reason we are here to help
the community with dtv. We believe the people deserve a no-cost
transition, and a just burial for analog tv...may she rest in pieces.