Thursday, February 05, 2009

Congress Yields to Advertising Special Interests on Digital Television

Congress yielded to the advertising lobby in their decision to delay the Digital transition, because that is the only explanation that fits. The idea that Congress really cares about couch potatoes is laughable.

Here is a survey of the putative reasons given by the Democrats (and we know they always lie). These are so silly as to be completely transparent: "If almost 6 percent of the nation's households lose all TV service,I think most people would declare the digital TV transition to be a failure", Rick Boucher, D-Va., chairman of House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, said on the House floor Wednesday. Look, Rick, if 6% of the people in this country wake up without television, perhaps they will go out and get jobs! Then we will be down to only 1% unemployment!

"We are not ready for this transition," said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, during the House debate. "We can fix these problems and minimize this catastrophe if we pass this legislation." This latter comment is so ridiculous it barely deserves a thrashing -- but Anna Eshoo a Dem from Palo Alto California -- remember the 7.0 earthquake we had in 1989? THAT was a catastrophe. A month without TV is a BLESSING. Please try and get it straight next time.

Those are the actual primary quotes from the first two articles on this subject I opened today. Further proof that the Press simply parrots the democratic message. If the press put the slightest litmus test to these statements they could just throw out that whole page of notes.

Note the real reason that we are delaying the transition is that the advertising revenues are tied to viewers, and if there are 6% fewer viewers, there are 6% less ad revenues. Simple math, really. By the way -- A new study concludes that viewers find TV more pleasurable when they watch commercials. Seriously, who funded that study? And who's relying on it?

Out of the first three articles that I read, the only congressional quote that made sense comes from a Republican: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said the delay would cost broadcasters in his state $500,000 to $1 million in electricity costs to continue running analog transmitters . . . nothing that advertisements are [still] touting the Feb. 17 date. "They're still being told this is what they should do," he said. "This is why people don't trust the government."

There are 1655 analog TV stations in the US. By the 17th of February, 200 (15%) will have switched to Digital. The law allows any analog station to switch to digital anytime before June. And 50-100 more stations say they will stop broadcasting analog on 17 Feb. That means about 20-25% of the analogue stations will be off the air on 17 Feb despite the heroic efforts of your congressman.

Oh by the way, they still have not re-funded the free converter box program yet, so there is still time for them to delay the transition again!


OBloodyHell said...

> Note the real reason that we are delaying the transition is that the advertising revenues are tied to viewers, and if there are 6% fewer viewers, there are 6% less ad revenues. Simple math, really.

This argument makes little sense to me. You cannot possibly watch TV with even vague regularity and be unaware of the transition and have, at least, a vague idea if it affects you or might. So thee only people who might wind up without service are people too stupid to earn money, people who live so far away from civ that they don't have cable TV, don't EARN enough money to get satellite TV, or just flat out don't even WATCH TV that much.

I don't see how ANY of those fit a TV advertising demographic -- "no money", or "no attention to TV", basically.

So this whole delay thing is just absurd.

> By the way -- A new study concludes that viewers find TV more pleasurable when they watch commercials. Seriously, who funded that study? And who's relying on it?

OK, depending on how it was worded, I could see this.

I do enjoy some commercials -- ones which tell a good joke (but not too many times) or have a good schtick, at least.

Most beer commercials fall into the "Good joke" category, as have the Geico "Gecko" commercials to a certain extent (though they vary). (The latest Geico commercials make me actually appreciate the detested Caveman spots, however) AFLAC does a pretty good job staying amusing, too.

As for "Good schtick", the e-surance commercials, though not really all that funny, are not awful in this regard. I think the ones for Enzyte "natural male enhancement" starring "Bob" fall into this category. I don't find either of them annoying or insulting.

So, if you ask the fairly open question, "Do you ever enjoy TV commercials?" you can probably get a positive answer from most people.

Further, if you haven't Tivo'd a show, and are watching it "live", then commercials give you an opportunity to get something to eat, etc., which would not happen if the commercials did not provide such breaks. So, again, phrasing the question properly could get an "I like TV with commercials" response.

So they aren't necessarily lying even, about people saying that they don't dislike commercials utterly, and that TV with commercials does have some advantages.

Now, if I could vote a commercial down -- "Never show *me* this commercial ever again!" that would be an interesting advertising medium. Companies would get substantial feedback on what commercials were good, which ones were bad, and how to make their commercials better. I will guarantee you that I'd never see another commercial for a feminine hygiene product, or a jock itch commercial, either, for that matter.

Bob in Los Angeles said...


Thanks for the comments. My caveat: I have not had cable or satellite for three years. Up until last week, I did not even own a television. I had a life! Other than the occasional sporting event, or hotel stay, I haven't seen TV and have not surfed the vast wasteland. So, it is difficult to understand the debate about which commercials are better.

I did see the super bowl, the last few years, but as far as I am concerned, no one can top the Burger King commercial where women dressed up as pickles, lettuce and meat are piled on a bun one on top of another. That was the high point of the last three years for me.

Last week, I bought a 37" 1080p TV to watch DVD's. It is awesome. At that time I bought some rabbit ears, and now I pick up 40 channels. When I gave up TV three years ago, it was because there was nothing worth watching on TV. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed. Has it? Is there anything worth watching on TV?

On to the debate. You say you "This argument makes little sense to me." I am listening. Why is Congress wasting oxygen on this one if not for the advertisers? Whether the putative 'lost souls' are low-income or not, I believe the total head count would drop, and therefore total HH viewers would go down. Those seem to me to be the primary considerations of advertising revenue decisions. However, I am willing to shelve this theory if there is a better one. Occam's Razor applies.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Carl, if I were going to parody your site I would start here, then triple the number of links.

Bob in Los Angeles said...

The most sincere form of flattery -- I am almost blushing.