From the future history archives, Sept. 9, 2011 -- President Barack Obama is urging Congress for the 15th delay in the planned switch from analog to digital television broadcasting, arguing that too many Americans who rely on analog TV won't be ready.
According to the best information available, at least 300 Americans would be left without TV reception if the switch were to go ahead as planned this coming December. "That's 300 too many," Obama said in a letter to Congress. "Considering all the sacrifices we've been asking of the American people, we must have an informed public, so need to continue to shoot for No TV Viewers Left Behind (NTVLB)."
The converter boxes that enable viewers to switch from "rabbit ears" to a digital signal are now estimated to cost between $1,500 and $2,000 each, up from $40 to $80 when the conversion was first planned in 2009. The government plans to make coupons available for the 300 remaining viewers at a cost of $1,000 each. But that is a total of $300,000, "and it's money the federal government just doesn't have right now," Obama said. The president called for an emergency appropriations bill in the amount of $2.5 billion to cover the expense of providing the coupons. "And that's the bare minimum. It doesn't even cover air conditioning for the third floor of the coupon distribution center."
Earl and Margaret Peabody, the last remaining couple in Fort Wayne still without cable or satellite TV or the means to switch to digital, said they welcomed the president's bold actions. "I just don't know what we'd do if we couldn't see 'General Hospital' and 'Oprah' every day," Margaret said.
Asked why they had not been saving money for the converter box over the last two and a half years, Earl said they had thought about it. "But then Congress appropriated all that money so we could afford the switch away from the bad kind of light bulbs, and then they kicked in so we could afford the kind of toilet paper that won't stop up the low-flush toilets. It seemed like anything really important, they'd take care of. That meant we could us our money for other things, like this nifty mini-mini-mini wristwatch computer I got last week."