If TV Viewers Aren’t Ready by Now for the Switch, Waiting a Few Months Isn’t Going to Help and What do You do When the Station You Work for Files for Bankruptcy protection.

People who know me know I’m probably not the most technically savvy person out there.  Oh, I can figure things out eventually but I’m not the person who has to have the first high-tech gadget or new software program.  But I will say I know when it’s time to get on board the bandwagon.  I like to see where the technology is going before I pull the trigger on buying something.  That’s why I never ended up with a consumer grade Sony Beta Video recorder.  I waited and bought into the VHS thing.  Same thing with the DVD thing and I’m still waiting to see if this Blu-Ray thing is worth while.  Having said all of that, I can’t understand why the federal government put the change-over to digital TV on hold until June 12.  For years, February 17 (today) was supposed to be the big day.  Stations geared up for it.  Cable and satellite providers promoted the heck out of it.  But it seems that there are some folks out there who haven’t gotten the message and someone is afraid they won’t know what to do.  Well, I hate to break the news to those folks, but if they haven’t figured it out by now, they still won’t have it figured out by June 12.  Sure Meemaw and Pappaw and probably Cousin Rufus and his brood might miss out on their favorite soaps or reality TV show.  But at what point do you say “it’s time” and do what you need to do.

The GM has pointed out on this blog that it costs a lot of money to keep analog AND digital transmitters running.   So that means  if it costs more to operate a station and you were counting on pulling the analog plug, well now you have an additional expense for about a half a year that you weren’t counting on.  Where will that money come from?  Will you have to cut jobs to make up the loss?  Since I don’t run a station, I’m not sure of the answer.  I just think that the delay of the digital change-over is not going to make much of a difference to those who haven’t figured it out.  I also predict that come June 11, there will be some folks wringing their hands and on June 12th, they will be calling the local TV stations (and their congressmen no doubt) to ask what is going on with the TV signal.  IMHO the delay is not worth it.  Nuff said there.

I’ve worked at a variety of radio and TV stations since college.  While all the stations made noise about keeping expenses under control, you knew which ones cared about providing employees with the tools and equipment they needed to do the job properly and those that pinched a penny so hard that Mr. Lincoln was choking.  And while I was let go from one station and that proved to be traumatic enough, I never worked at a station that filed for bankruptcy protection while I was there.  I got a call recently that Young Broadcasting which has a station in San Francisco (KRON) and one in Nashville (WKRN) among other stations has filed for bankruptcy.  I’m not sure if it was Chapter 7 or 11 but that has to be an unsettling event no matter which way it goes.  I would imagine that the night after that announcement, folks couldn’t get into an edit bay at stations owned by Young as people lined up to get their resume tapes in order.  The managers apparently told the employees at those stations that it would be business as usual but after that kind of announcement, can it ever be business as usual?

For years there have been predictions that the number of news operations in the market will be whittled down as some stations decide it just isn’t worth it to keep shoveling money to newsrooms that aren’t able to really compete.  This might be the signal that the change is coming.  And folks, if you haven’t proven yourself to be a multi-tasking, team player, then you may just find you don’t have a job and your lack of skills may keep you from getting another job across town or anywhere else in the TV news biz.

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8 Comments on “If TV Viewers Aren’t Ready by Now for the Switch, Waiting a Few Months Isn’t Going to Help and What do You do When the Station You Work for Files for Bankruptcy protection.”

  1. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    Joe,

    I agree with your thoughts on the delayed switch. Folks have had more than enough time to do whatever’s necessary to continue receiving TV signals, and a few more months will only cost broadcasters more money they don’t have.

  2. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Can’t remember if I posted this before but Brazil went digital last year. It was a big deal. One Sunday night at 8:30, covered by all the networks, the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva pushed the button and it all went digital. Now you see the network symbol with the “HD” next to it. Brazil has several networks; Globo, Record, SBT, Bandeirantes, RedeTV, with Globo being the dominant. It was huge that this 3rd world country went digital before the US. So, I also wonder, if Brazil can go digital a year ago, why did the US push back?

  3. Joe G! Says:

    Chris, et al.,

    Many countries have gone digital before us. Britain, Japan, etc. They didn’t go digital because of the technology. They made the switch so the gov’t. can auction off the analog signals and make money.

  4. Richard Says:

    Wasn’t the delay due to our government running out of money for the coupons to get the converters? Anytime our government gets involved in anything, there’s problems.

    PBS stations in MS went digital last night, at least that’s what they showed on their stations this past Saturday!

  5. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Joe G, thanks for responding. Didn’t know that. The switch, here in Brazil last year, gave the country a sense of pride knowing they were ahead of the USA.

    I have satellite and a slingbox. Wish my computer was in HD. 🙂

  6. the tall tv guy Says:

    Joe,
    Over 400 stations planned to go ahead and switch, and to heck with the official delay.

    A friend of mine saw a demonstration of the digital technology over 20 years ago. So it’s taken a long time to get where we are!

    While I haven’t had an employer file for bankruptcy, I had one struggle to make weekly payroll and another one lost millions for months before I was in the first wave of layoffs.

    It could be worse…have the FBI walk in, seize company documents, and close the office!

  7. Paul Says:

    Joe…

    To answer Richard’s question, no, it wasn’t that the program “ran out of money” (as the MSM likes to say) the problem was that too many (uninformed) people requested coupons who didn’t need them. These people already had cable, satellite or digital tuners. Others snapped up coupons thinking they were REQUIRED to purchase a converter, when converters were readily availble at any electronics store. Another falsehood was that the converters were prohibitively “expensive” when they cost(even without the coupon) only a fraction of the cheapest analog TV still on the shelf.

    This one can be laid squarely at the feed of the White House, and more specifically Congress. They knew better. Over three years ago, THEY mandated the change and chose the February 17, 2009 switch date in the first place. When we speak of the “federal government” screwing this up, lets be more specific. CONGRESS, in their infinite wisdom, listened, and typically took the word of a loud, vocal minority who claimed their “rights” were being violated. The closer the date came, the louder the MSM hype over the “confusion” surrounding the switch. Congress, forever concerned with even one voter feeling slighted decided to revisit their own mess to mess it up even more.

    The sad part is that the same people screaming “we’re not ready!!” on February 16, will be the same people screaming on March 11. What will Congress do to screw it up then? You can be sure they’ll come up with something.

  8. Doc Pepper Says:

    There will be some sort of impact, but the biggest impact will be in the rural areas.

    The digital offering are more impressive in the urban areas than in the rural areas where WBBJ’s contributtion beyond network digital is a 24 hour weather map and noaa radio broadcast. Rural areas will get less.

    My dad lives in a small very rural town in West Tennessee. He uses an antenna and gets a couple of Memphis Stations, WLJT, WBBJ, WJKT and WPSD. After the switch, he probably will just get WJKT, WBBJ and WLJT. I am guessing this after using the new converter box with the old antenna in the last two months to see what will happen. Rural antenna users will have less channels and have to obtain cable/satellite.

    Charter Communications of West Tennessee just pulled the plug on the Nashvile channels. he reason given is to free up space for the additional digital carry slots of the local stations. Of course everyone from a congressman to a farmer has complained. The issue is that the Nashville channels carry Titans games, but the Memphis channels do not carry all of them. Rural cable users will have less cable choices.


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