Posts Tagged ‘Television’

The U.S. Digital TV Transition Happens Today

June 12, 2009

Well, today is the day that most TV stations will be switching over to a solely digital signal (if they haven’t done so already).  So, I figured it’d be appropriate to talk about the politics of the tranistion.

First, if you’re looking for information about the transition and how it will affect you, you can check out, a website run by the Federal Communications Commission.

Personally, I think the forced transition to digital is an overstepping of the government.  I personally don’t see the need for the government to do this, and I think the FCC has been deceptive to the American people in selling the DTV conversion.

In the FAQ, the FCC answer’s the question, “Why are we switching to DTV?” with an answer that seems like it’s the government doing great things for the American public:

An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads). Also, some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).

Consumers also benefit because digital broadcasting allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality, and digital is much more efficient than analog. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super sharp “high definition” (HD) digital program or multiple “standard definition” (SD) digital programs simultaneously through a process called “multicasting.” Multicasting allows broadcast stations to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program. So, for example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 can offer viewers one digital program on channel 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, a third digital program on channel 7-3, and so on. This means more programming choices for viewers. Further, DTV can provide interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology.

Now, all of that is true, but I find it deceptive the way that they organized that.  They placed the public safety section at the top, when in actuality, only 4 channels (63, 64, 68, and 69) will be reassigned to police departments, fire departments, etc.  Most of the analog spectrum has been sold off to companies such as AT&T or Verizon.

On the one hand, it’s great that the government is making some money by selling those frequencies, but think of how much money was spent on digital converters!  Congress budgeted anywhere from $890 million to $1.5 billion.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find how much money the government is making off of the analog frequency sales, but they sure are spending a lot on converters.

But the biggest reason that I oppose the forced transition to digital is that I don’t see why the government should care.  If they want to reallocate a few frequencies to public safety departments, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of ALL analog television.  I just see this as the government being more involved than it has to be, especially at a time when the government has more important things to worry about.

Personally, I would’ve liked to have used Canada’s original method – allow the markets to control who switches and when – if people like digital, the TV stations will respond to the demand.  Unfortunately, even Canada gave in and will require most analog frequencies to stop broadcasting by August 31, 2011.

If you’d like to see the full legislation, a copy of the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 can be found here.

Again, if you need information about the DTV conversion, check out, and if you’d like to see what digital stations should be available in your area, check out the map feature here:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

House of Representatives Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus Package

January 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, Congress’s latest economic stimulus package.  That bill passed 244-188; 11 Democrats broke ranks, while all of the voting Republicans voted against it.  First, I would like to commend the 11 Democrats who voted against the $819 billion “stimulus” bill.  This bill is an atrocity to the Congressional system of appropriations.  Instead of focusing on true STIMULUS (after all, it is an “economic STIMULUS package”), the Democrats in the House packed the bill with billions of dollars of un-stimulating spending.  For those of  you who want to read the sources, here’s the version of the bill as it was introduced (it has been slightly changed, but not too much), here’s the summary from the House Appropriations Committee, and here’s the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  And here’s the link to the roll call vote, Roll number 46.

Let’s take a look at the  following, keeping in mind that this is just a fraction of the spending packed in the 647-page bill (which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to quite get through, although I skimmed most of it): $650,000,000 for digital TV converters, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration, $250,000,000 for NASA climate research, $600,000,000 for the government to lease plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles, $500,000,000 for airport security, $150,000,000 for bridge removal by the Coast Guard, $1,700,000,000 for National Parks Service maintenance, $200,000,000 to clean up leaking underground sewage storage tanks, $850,000,000 for wildland fire management, $150,000,000 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50,000,000 for the National Cemetery Administration to make cemetery repairs.  And this is all after some apportionments were taken out.  The Republicans urged Democrats to take out some of the unnecessary spending, such as making funds available for “family planning” and contraceptives, as well as $200,000,000 to revitalize and re-sod the National Mall, but I think those were the only 2 spending things that were cut out of the bill.  Either way, the point is – there’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Now, I am not saying that the expenditures in this bill are unimportant.  Clearly bridge removal, airport security, wildland fire management, etc. are very important; however, Congress has an apportionment process for a reason.  This bill takes the traditional apportionment process and throws it out the window, and that is absolutely unacceptable!  The Democrats essentially drafted this bill telling THEIR caucus members, “If you want money apportioned for something, stick it in this ‘stimulus package’ and we’ll get it passed no questions asked,” and that’s exactly what happened.  Keep in mind, a normal apportionment bill is debated for days, but here the House Democrats crammed what would have been hundreds of apportionment bills into one bill and debated it on the floor for ONLY THREE DAYS.  That’s right folks – this was introduced on January 26, and it was passed on January 28.  That is both unacceptable and just plain DANGEROUS.  Half of the Representatives don’t even know what all is in the bill!

If Congress wants to spend money, that is perfectly fine, but they need to do it through the proper channels of apportionment, not by hijacking the taxpayers’ wallets under the guise of an “economic stimulus package.”

So where were the Republicans in all of this?  I’ll tell you.  They were left out until the very end.  Not ONE Republican had any real input while this bill was drafted.  Sure, Obama met with Republicans and “took their input,” but no Republican ever put a pen anywhere near this bill as it was being written.  The only input they had was on the floor of the House during debate and when they were proposing amendments.  And how many Republican amendments were passed?  Only two, neither of which spared us from the utter fiscal disaster that this bill is.

I was watching C-SPAN on-line late last night (waiting for the House to upload the Congressional record so I could look stuff up and write a story on this for my newspaper column) and quite a few Republicans took a strong stand against the bill.  In particular, the Representative from the Central Michigan Area, Dave Camp (R-MI4) submitted an amendment that would have changed the stimulus package to a pure tax-cut instead of this ridiculous spending spree / tax-cut combo, but that substitute bill (labelled as an amendment) failed along party lines, with 2 Democrats crossing over.

Personally, I don’t think that a spending spree is what we need right now, but even if the Democrats insist on increasing spending, they need to do it through the proper means of apportionment instead of shoving it into one big bill.  That way, maybe at least some of the frivolous spending will fail, but the way it’s going right now, the Democrats are on board with this “all or nothing” crap.  I really don’t see how the Democrats think that all this spending is going to stimulate the economy, especially since some of this stuff is just so focused, like repairing graves at national cemeteries.  Sure, it’s probably a good expenditure, but it’s not economic stimulus.

Hopefully the Senate votes against their version of this bill, but somehow I don’t see that happening.  If they could at least cut out some of the spending though, it’d make me a little happier.

We’re gonna be in for a rough period if Congress keeps this kind of stuff up.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Alan Colmes to Leave Hannity & Colmes Show on FOX

November 24, 2008

News has just come in that Alan Colmes, the liberal half of Hannity & Colmes, the number 2 show in cable news (behind The O’Reilly Factor), will be leaving the show at the end of the year.  Colmes told reporters, “I approached Bill Shine [Fox News Channel’s Senior Vice President of Programming] earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network.  Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years.”

Shine also gave a statement, saying, “We’re very sorry to see Alan reach this decision but we understand his desire to seek other creative challenges in his career.  We value his incredible hard work in making Hannity & Colmes the most successful debate program on cable news and we’re going to miss him on the show.  Thankfully, he will begin developing a weekend pilot for us.”

Hannity also released a statement, saying, “Not only has Alan been a remarkable co-host, he’s been a great friend which is rare in this industry — I’ll genuinely miss sparring with such a skillful debate partner.”

Roger Ailes, the Chairman & CEO of FOX News also said, “Alan is one of the key reasons why FOX News has been such a remarkable success.  We’re sad to see him leave the program but we look forward to his ongoing contributions to the network.”

Colmes continue working at FOX, as a liberal commentator on a variety of news programs, including The Strategy Room.  He will also continue to host his radio program, The Alan Colmes Show, on FOX Talk.  Additionally, he will begin to develop a weekend program of some sort.

Personally, I’m going to miss Alan.  I’ve always enjoyed the back and forth on Hannity and Colmes.  They actually had good debates.  I always found the format both fun and educational.

The future of the show is unknown at this point in time, but I’m sure that Sean is going to stay at FOX.

The good news is, this leaves room for me and my roommate to get a show on FOX, although I’m not sure that we’d be as civilized as Hannity and Colmes were.  Both him and I like watching COPS, so we joke about combining the two shows, kinda like a Hannity & Colmes with TAZERs.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama: Children Lack a “Hunger to Learn” and Parents Must “Turn off the Television” and “Video Games”

April 4, 2008

While talking at a forum in a hall in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Obama told parents that “we’re not instilling the hunger to learn.”  He mad the point that “it’s not all about money,” saying that children in China are going to school in dilapidated buildings, with outdated text books but they’re performing well because “they are hungry.”

Harrisburg teacher Jesse Rawls Sr. asked Obama, “How can we get inner-city kids to buy into education?”  Obama responded by saying, “The only reason I’m standing here is because I got a good education.  We need to change the attitude of kids … [and champion the idea] that everybody is our responsibility.”

He then detailed his plan that would “Identify ‘at-risk’ parents when they go to the hospital to deliver a baby, teach them to read, and encourage their child to get a good education.” (

While discussing the importance of reading at a young age, he said that “government can’t do everything,” and he told parents, “Turn off the television, turn off the video games.”  He told parents, “don’t go to school and cuss out the teacher” when a note is sent home from the school about their children.  He said that motivation must be given to students, especially 9th graders, who show a great lack in interest as they transition over to high school.  He said that the mentality that “education is poured in your ear” and the students don’t have to do anything is utterly false and believing that mentality will have terrible consequences.

I’ve gotta say, I agree with Obama here.  And this “it’s the parents’ mentality” is a pattern of his.  Back in February, he told a crowd in Wisconsin, “We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children, and that’s going to take some time.”

My favorite quote from his whole speech was “government can’t do everything.”  I just wish he would use this mentality when it came to health care.  I like McCain’s plan of allowing people to get health care plans from other states (pushing for more competition between companies) MUCH better than either Clinton’s or Obama’s plans.  For more on McCain’s positions about health care, see here.

Anyway, I do like the fact that Obama is saying that it’s the parents’ job, not the government’s to make sure that kids want to learn.  The fact that he said this right as these stories, where parents weren’t doing their jobs, makes me feel a little happier about Obama, although I’ll still never vote for him (unless he were pro-life, then there’d be the chance, but I’d still vote for McCain over him):

America has got to get this problem of out of control kids under control, and it really does start with education.  If kids are dedicated to education, they won’t go around plotting to stab their teacher, or flushing their newborn babies down the toilet (or even getting pregnant at all!).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Analysis of Kucinich’s Lawsuit Against NBC Universal Inc.

January 18, 2008

OK, so on Monday, the Nevada Supreme Court heard the appeal case of Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) against NBC Universal (NBC lost the first case), Inc.  Kucinich was suing NBC for banning him (after inviting him) to the Las Vegas debate.  Kucinich tried to argue the “Equal Time” Rule, but that rule does not apply to cable TV stations such as MSNBC.  Even if it WERE a publicly broadcast TV station, the Democratic party could still bar him from debating.  It’s ultimately the TV station’s First Amendment rights (as well as the DNC’s).

I agree with the ruling here.  I also agree with FOX keeping Ron Paul out of the debate- as much as it hurts Democracy and voters, it’s their choice.  If we forced all candidates to be allowed into debates, you’d have a potential of 21 Republicans (21 were on the New Hampshire ballot) and 21 Democrats.  That’s ridiculous.  The parties need to be able to control their debates.

Kucinich never further appealed the Nevada High Court’s ruling.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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