US Analogue Switch Off: 2009

Michael Powell, US Federal Communications Commission Chairman, has endorsed a January 2009 date for the country’s analogue to digital TV broadcast switchover.

And what a commitment it was! Although he requested an unspecified date for the switchover during his testimony in front of the Senate Commerce Committee, when questioned by reporters about the FCC-proposed 2009 date he was heard to say “Yes, I’m saying it really strongly.”

The UK’s own switch-over is likely to happen sometime between 2010 and 2012, depending on who you believe. Americans have a lot of work to do to meet their 2009 date, as only 2% of households have digital TV equipment. I guess they must replace their televisions more frequently than us British.

Congress have set a trigger point requiring broadcasters to switch to digital television signals once 85% of homes can be reached.Powell’s key motivator behind the switch-over is freeing up the analogue spectrum for the emergency services and public-safety broadcasts, as evidenced in his statement. Since the project is being tackled as a defence against terrorism, them no doubt a lot of resources will be thrown at it.

Michael Powell’s Statement to Congress

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?