As you may or may not know it, the NTSC broadcast standard that we are all so used to in this country will give way to a complete HDTV standard as of February 2009. Unless you have cable or satellite service or an HDTV or Analog TV with a digital tuner/converter, that old analog TV set of yours might serve better as a boat anchor. Thinking ahead ( ? - see note below), our Congress decided to appropriate millions so that the 15 to 20% of Americans who "don't" have cable or satellite could afford the new service by providing partial funding (Click for Federal DTV Coupon Program) for an external tuner that make those old analog TVs compatible with the new service.
What Congress didn't think of is that millions upon millions of old analog TVs and their extremely toxic parts that will utlimately wind up being tossed into our landfills (and some vacant lots) as a result of America moving to the new Flat-screens. Knowing our Congress, they actually won't think about this until "after" it starts happening and when someone hits them over the head with the contamination problem. This is an environmental nightmare in the making and no one in Congress seems to have seen it coming.
When Congress does stop being "clueless" on this issue, it will probably come so late in the process that it will cost billions of dollars to fix the mess. A mess that might have only cost $millions, not billions, if they had only originally planned for it. But, sometime in the future, Congress will run around like chickens with their heads off while trying to solve this problem. Mark my words.
Note: While HDTV was originally mandated in 1993 for a 2007 implementation, Congress didn't realized that some "poorer" people in this country might not be able to foot the bill for the $500+ cost of an HDTV. Duh! So, in there infinite wisdom, they decided to delay the cutoff of analog TV until 2009 and provided converter funding for those who were less fortunate in this country. While they could have waited until the 11th hour (say late 2006 or early 2007), they actually scrambled to fix their "oversight" in early 2006 and, "proudly", did it with almost a year to spare before it was "lights out" on analog. Our heroes!
Image by reaccurringdreams on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing