The Obama Administration has proposed delaying the abandonment of analog television beyond the current February 17th date. President-elect Obama expressed concerns that America just wasn’t ready.
Analog TV in its current form dates back to 1939 (and 1953 for color broadcasts) and has essentially been obsolete for almost 20 years. I recall articles in EE Times from the late 1980’s declaring that digital encoding standards and microelectronics had advanced to the point where high-definition signals would be ready for public broadcasting by 1992. That never happened, and it took another 10 years before other countries – Japan and Germany in particular – leapfrogged the U.S. in establishing digital television as the standard. The last official cutover date before this one was December 23, 2006. Before that there were others. [The FCC had hopeful expectations, unmatched by either the electronics industry or Congress.]
Half a decade later the U.S. is ready to forsake a 70-year-old technology and embrace a much more versatile broadcast media. The transition will never be perfect no matter how hard Obama and Congress might want it to be, but it’s still long overdue.