It seems like no matter where I go these days, I hear from people upset about the digital television (DTV) transition. They want to know why the government’s doing it. (Answer: Make money by selling off analog signals.) Whether they’ll get high definition now. (Answer: No, not unless you have a high def TV.) And why they can’t get certain channels now. (The answer varies so much from case to case, I don’t even know where to start.)
I hear a lot of complaints, too. Mainly because of that last point — once they hook up a converter box, they can’t see certain stations. I wholeheartedly agree with them. It’s annoying. You’ve been watching one station for 50 years without any problems and all of a sudden, because there’s a mountain in your view, or you live on the “wrong” side of the transmitter, you can’t watch that station anymore.
It’s just as annoying for us in the television industry. We make our money based on how many people watch us. Four times a year, Nielsen sends out diaries in which families keep track of what they watch and when. Using the results, television stations set their commercial rates.
If you can’t watch us, our ratings go down, thus our rates go down, and we make less money. I’m not being selfish here, either. If we (as a station) make less money, we have less money to spend on operations. On the electricity to run that digital signal — and it’s a lot — on cameras, trucks, reporters. The less money we make, the harder it becomes to cover the news.
No matter what happens February 17th, I plan on still being here. And if I can help you, I will do my best to do so! In the meantime, just know I’m on your side.