Thursday, January 31, 2008

Your tax dollars are coming back to you

Your Federal government is hard at work, making sure you have the right equipment to watch TV when they turn off analog broadcasting next February. From the WSJ:

Consumers can buy set-top converter boxes to make old televisions play digital signals, and Congress has set aside $1.5 billion to help consumers pay for the converters. Consumers who subscribe to cable or satellite services don't have to do anything. Earlier this month, U.S. residents could begin applying for two $40 coupons to help pay for converter boxes, which are expected to sell for about $50 to $70 each. The coupons can be ordered at or (888) DTV-2009.

I would only change one sentence:
Congress has taken $10,000 each from 150,000 taxpayers to ensure continued audiences for soap operas, Oprah!, and American Idol.
which is, of course, one of the enumerated powers of Congress dictated by the Constitution. I'm quite sure it's in there somewhere, if you just look hard enough.

Edit: Those converter boxes might be arriving just in time to sit atop unused TV sets, if this article's prediction is correct:

American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that “orphaned” viewers may never return.

The Nielsen ratings organisation found that US viewership for last week's opening of the 2008 TV season was down 21 per cent compared with the same week last year, when new episodes of hit shows such as Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy were aired.

The article goes on to document the lingering effect of the last writers' strike -- it is estimated that 10% of the network TV audience just never came back. The long-term effect of this idiotic strike will be fewer dollars for everybody -- the networks, the production companies, and, yes, the sainted, long-suffering writers. The writers may or may not get their additional portion, but the pie will undoubtedly be smaller.

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