D-Day 2009 Commences On Their Signal

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 17, 2008

We are at T minus six months.

This is it, folks. The nation has done what it can do to prepare for The Transition. The government has allocated approximately $1.5 billion in coupons to ease America's fear and suffering. Sen. Hillary Clinton sent a letter to President Bush imploring him to see the severity of the situation. On the radio, guest experts try to remain calm and reassuring while simultaneously conveying what a very deep pile of shtuff we're in.

On Feb. 17, you will not be able to watch television.

In case you have been, for the past three years, trapped under a large object:

Due to the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (cue thunder!), six months from today all broadcast stations will switch from analog to digital transmission (cue lightning!), and if you currently rely on bunny ears (cue the mordant laughter of a vengeful God!), you're out of luck.

Naturally, officials have been preparing.

The Federal Communications Commission "periodically evaluates the progress of the nation's transition to DTV," reads the text of one memo, which goes on for 200 pages. "The Commission initiated this -- "

Wait, are we talking about television?

The brain-rotting device that we've all been vowing to toss, or at least cut back on, for the past 40 years? Just to be clear, this is what we're talking about? Not, like, Ebola?

Yes. We are talking about television.

Not everybody's television. You got cable? You're fine. You got a dish? You're fine. You purchase your set after March 2007? You're fine, too. Even after 2000, you're probably okay.

(A refresher: Analog comes through the air, on big, messy waves, as radio does; digital comes through the air in tight, neat packets of bits using a technology similar to a computer.)

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