This ain’t your grandma’s digital revolution

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On Aug. 31st, all major markets in Canada, with the exception of a large number of the CBC analog transmitters, went digital. This means the only means of television that I and many of my friends had in our much younger years is no longer available.

What does this mean to most university-aged folk? Absolutely nothing. Our viewing habits haven’t involved antennas in over a decade. We stream our programs online or otherwise use the internet to acquire our shows to watch at our own convenience. And in the city, most of us have Access or Sasktel in addition to our magical computer boxes.

About 93 per cent of the Canadian population already has access to digital television, but the people out there who do not are confused about the transition. I was recently visiting my boyfriend’s mom and she informed us that as of Aug. 31 she will longer have television. She only has two channels which are received by an antenna, and only one of them isn’t fuzzy as hell.

Some guy at a televison store told her she’d have to get a whole new antenna set up for the lovely sum of $800 to continue to receive those channels.

After I sifted through the information on the government information and CBC website, I finally understood the guy at this TV store was a dickhead trying to take advantage of a non-technology-savvy lady. The only thing she needs to do is spend about $70 on a digital-to-analog converter and maybe tweak her antenna a little to watch her old-school tv.

Paying 70 dollars for something which used to be free sucks, but I do understand times are a-changing. Better picture and sound will be available for free to anyone with an antenna and a converter – or an HDTV for the time being – which is a benefit of joining the technological age.

What I cannot come to terms with is the awful misinformation people like my boyfriend’s mom have been receiving and the miniscule amount of information on how to deal with the analog-to-digital conversion.

The best information is found on the internet. Well you know what? I imagine most people who still have antennas are rural and elderly.

These are a group of people who aren’t  going to “surf the net” for this information. They’re going to “knit for a few hours, then take a nap.” 

The United States had a comprehensive strategy when they switched over two years ago. They actually – get this – put money into informing the public and making the transition as smooth as possible. They even provided $40 coupons for people to buy digital-to-analog converter boxes for grandma’s sake! We had a few 30-second commercials and a website. Way to go Canada.

By the way, according the Globe and Mail, the government will likely be making between four to six billion on selling the digital airwaves TV and internet companies covet. Maybe they could have stowed away some money to help the older and rural folks, who I doubt will be streaming their CBC online anytime soon.

Chelsea Laskowski
Contributor

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