Why Digital TV Sucks

April 27, 2005

Well, the oft-promised “end of Analog TV as we know it” is once again upon us, as Congress decides whether to keep or extend the current due date of New Year’s Eve 2006. MSNBC (hardly a disinterested party) hashes out some of the issues here.

“Congress, however, left itself a loophole in the 1996 legislation, and could actually let the cut-off date slide by. But powerful lobbyists now are pressing legislators to set a “date certain” for the analog lights-out. The debate over when to throw the switch is a strange brew of big money, high technology, homeland security and a single, unanswerable question: just how angry are the couch potatoes going to be? It’s also a textbook example of why the future almost never happens as fast as technologists promise.”

Of course, what they don’t mention is that all of this would be much more palatable if they weren’t trying to control the way we watch television by shoving various DRM schemes down our throat.

I’m all for digital TV. Heck, I don’t watch a single TV signal here unless it’s been mangled by at least one CPU after it’s come into the house. If it all arrived digitally, that’d be even better — it’d make it easier to slice it and dice it and watch TV the way I want to watch it.

The problem is that the content producers have figured out that if the signal is digital, then THEY can control the way I watch it (no slicing, no dicing, no damn julianne fries either) as long as they can encourage / bribe / strongarm the government and the equipment manufacturers into thinking they have the God-given right to control how we consume content, and handing all the controls over to them.

I suspect somewhere some of these clowns invision some sort of Clockwork Orange-esque scene where we’re all strapped to chairs with our “glassies” prized open and forced to watch inane commercials until blood, spinal fluid and credit card numbers spew from our every orifice.

Thus we have the DMCA, the Broadcast Flag, DRM schemes out the wazoo, and our civil servants being recruited as Hollywood’s enforcement arm, paid by us.

Digital content is like starting a relationship with a hot supermodel, only to find that she’s a card-carrying facist with more baggage than a suitcase store.

You know what, if your revenue models are antiquated and you are rapidly being disintermediated by technology, then change your business model — don’t offer me a handful of “features” with fifty thousand feet of strings attached and then ask the government to make sure they all stay knotted.

There have been a million good suggestions as to how Hollywood (and the music industry, but that’s another rant) can embrace these changes and make more money then ever. If they don’t want to take any of them, then fine – they can sit there and become extinct for all I care.

In the meantime they can leave those analog signals right where they are. Pretty soon someone will get a clue and come up with a digital distribution mechanism that doesn’t suck, and doesn’t treat us all like were kleptomaniac fifth graders, and it will all become moot anyway.

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122 Responses to “Why Digital TV Sucks”

  1. Bill on June 12th, 2010 2:30 pm

    DTV stinks. I hate this junk and the fools that forced it down our throats. The government dropped the ball big time on this one!!! We are 40 miles outside of Philadelphia and used to watch the Phillies or other sports teams in the area. Now everytime – every stinking time – that a game is on TV the reception dies half way through the first inning. I totally agree with Kathy (January 23, 2010). I believe the government is being paid off by the cable people to force us to by cable TV.

    I wish there was some way to petition our government but no matter what we do – NO ONE LISTENS!!! DTV stinks!!!

  2. Jack Blade on June 17th, 2010 12:40 am

    DTV sucks the big one! At least when it was analog I could get a picture even if it was a little snowy once in a while? Now I can only get 3 channels out of 12 I used to get with the analog type signal! Even with a rooftop antenna they suck! If the wind blows a bit or it storms the signal cuts out and you get the “Max Headroom” sounding signal or it just cuts out completely! This whole DTV is better or the picture is better is a bunch of bulls**t! It’s much worse! I am wondering if the reason they forced this garbage down our throats is to force everyone to buy satellite or cable, neither which I can afford? The government is a bunch of a**wipes for screwing up the analog free TV we use to enjoy! This totally pisses me off! I also wish there was a way to force the government to fix it or go back to analog? Bastards!

  3. anon09 on August 3rd, 2010 7:58 pm

    Wow…so I see that I’m not alone. When I still lived with my parents we had Dish Network which was pretty good – yes, we would sometimes lose the signal or get a crappy one if it rained really hard, but at least it worked most of the time. Now that I’m out on my own (well, my fiance moved in with me later on) I can’t afford cable and because of how my apartment is situated I can’t get satellite either so I’m stuck with “the box” and an antenna. Lo and behold, most of the channels (I think they go from 4 to 69) don’t come in; I do get FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC most of the time, PBS about half the time, the evangelists yelling at me and the Spanish channels most of the time (but who cares), and the rest, incl. CW, never. I was trying to watch a nature show on PBS tonight and the signal kept cutting out, freezing, etc. even though I tried messing with the antenna multiple times but finally gave up because it wasn’t worth it. It really pisses me off when I’m trying to watch the Colts and the signal cuts out continuously….really?? It really sucks….I’ve NEVER had this many problems with trying to watch tv even before we had cable or satellite when I was a kid. A little snowy sometimes, but at least you could hear it and see it fairly well even then.
    I watch all my shows online now because even with our crappy AT&T Internet which also loses signal strength half the time it’s a lot better than the tv. And they wonder why so many shows are pirated now and why so many people watch them that way…

  4. Matt on August 17th, 2010 1:57 pm

    I get better reception with my ham radio and a ball of tinfoil.
    DTV was doomed from the get go. You need the right signal strength or you get nada.
    As a member of Skywarn (I track storms for the Weather Service) what happens when theres a tornado ripping through town and no one knows, cause their tv is out?
    As technology gets “better’ it gets worse.
    Like we hams say, don’t fix it if it works.

  5. Evil Genius on September 30th, 2010 1:44 am

    Yes, I’m sitting watching my pixelated, skipping, stop-motion TV just now. I am so entirely sick of this. I live a mile from the state capital building, in the middle of town and I can’t get decent reception most of the time. Someone asked this question with no response about a year ago… Does ANYONE have an antenna design that works??

  6. Nick on October 14th, 2010 2:35 am

    DTV sucks. I cant even get in a signal anymore i get less stations then before the switch. So now when my kids have no school guess whos the only parent in town who drives them there. Yup you guessed it me the local radio station does a crappy job of letting everyone know schools closed for the day due to snow(which happens roughly about 5 times a year here). So i get to be the last person to know in fact three weeks ago my favorite local store burned down and the next day i went to go there, When i arrived construction workers were boarding the place up. I asked what happened guy said ” huge fire, didnt you watch the news last night? So once again we can thank all the paper pushers with there wonderful high def tvs and cable for the crap the rest of us have to put up with.

  7. Phil G. on October 21st, 2010 12:56 pm

    This DTV fiasco is what happens when you have an FCC where lawyers, rather than engineers, set technical standards and when you have a Congress beholden to lobbyists. I witnessed the DTV demonstrations held in Baltimore by Sinclair Broadcasting in 1999. They demonstrated analog, the U.S. DTV system (8VSB), and the European DTV system (DVB-T/COFDM) side-by-side with an indoor antenna in a condo overlooking the Inner Harbor in a room facing away from the TV tower. The analog had so much multipath (ghosting) that the picture was torn and would not lock in. With the U.S. system, we could not get any reception unless the antenna was set on the window ledge. If someone walked near it or touched it, the picture and sound pixellated and the screen went black. With the European system, we got perfect picture and sound no matter where the antenna was placed. But someone in Washington was paid off, nobody at the FCC would listen to Sinclair’s engineers, and we are now stuck with an inferior system. As for me, I do not get stable off-air reception of any stations at my home in Pennsylvania. I refuse to pay for cable, so I broke the TV habit, preferring to listen to some jazz at night while reading. As for weather emergencies, isn’t cable one of the first things to go out when violent storms take down wires? Thanks, Congress. May you all rot in Hell!

  8. james on October 24th, 2010 5:19 pm

    Id like to say to all the f*&king @ssholes out there that decided to make my choices for me, Go to hell you commy Basturds. I was very satisfied with my analog tv, i had great reception and all the local stations. Now all i have is a big ass new tv that only plays dvds, with the excetption of 5 gd religious channels that i dont give a f&*k for.

  9. debie on October 27th, 2010 7:41 pm

    I hate DTV, but not living in tornado country, I hadn’t realized the real danger until a huge wind storm resently hit our area. I think everyone who has a tornado even remotely near them needs to sue the government for endangering your lives!

  10. carly on November 29th, 2010 2:26 pm

    i agree with debie. i fight it absolutely terrifying that no one seems to care how dangerous these digital tv systems are. not the actual digital tv monitor, but the actual digital cable. now, i first off i should say that we still have the old analog tv sets in our house, but we use them with digital cable after ‘the transition.” it is annoying because unless you go out and buy a new digital screen tv, you have to deal with not being able to read pretty much any of the text on screen. my friends give me a lot of sh*T about that when over watching it. any how, in the past year or so we have had some dangerous storms come through..and almost everytime the digital tv misses it. there is a response delay. AND if you are sucked into a show on indemand you will totally miss any warning. there could be an a civil defense warning when aliens attack the united states and you’d miss the whole thing watching reruns of “the office.” on one of our tvs we have the basic cable digital (it pretty much looks exactly like analog except it lost some of the basic channels we had with analog) and it’s interesting because when there is a warning you go in the room with the basic cable and you get the warning before the room with the extended indemand digital cable. not to mention the billion commercials they just have to show you before they can warn you of impending doom. the only reliable way to find out about the weather these days is a transistor radio. yes i’m sure the same thing could’ve happened in the old days if you had your vcr on watching a movie but you were less likely to forget that you were in fact not watching cable. it’s easy to forget when you have on indemand. especially if there are commercials included on the indemand show. i could also see how dangerous it would be for someone with visual or auditory problems since the captions and audio description services are basically non existant on most channels with digital or significantly delayed. i still don’t understand how comcast has gotten away with that one for the past 3 years. they are getting a bit better though now that they actually offer more captions with their indemands shows than in the past. but still….now that people have to go out and buy new tv digital monitors they can’t play old nintendo or super nintento or sega or atari without rolling out the old analog. how many tv monitors will we have to stash in the house?

  11. carly on November 29th, 2010 2:39 pm

    oh yeah, and i wanted to mention, i don’t know if anyone else used this method in tornado alley, but back in the ole days with analog you would always know if the tornado was getting closer because as you watched the tv and the weather bulletin the screen would start to wobble and slide screens. and no it wasn’t because the tv was going bad or that the storm was going to cut out the cable, it was because of the signals being interferred by the intense uplift of electrical particles which happen with tornados. so now that doesn’t happen anymore with the digital. so in response to phil g, yes the cable used to go out……when the tornado was basically on top of your house, but you would usually have a fair chance of a warning if you were watching the tv with weather bulletins. i’ve been through tornados in the past and usually it was the tv that first warned us. not anymore. now we just listen to the wind out side and then turn on the old ham radio. maybe also check the noaa website if we can get internet and have time.

  12. Bob on February 5th, 2011 12:49 pm

    I long for the days when TV was the vast wasteland..It was so much better than it is today.

  13. Matt on February 17th, 2011 1:48 pm

    It’s a big pile of shit. my sister lives in Baltimore literally right behind WJZ and the other major tv stations transmitters cause when I walk out her back door theres the access road to the towers etc. and with the transmitters in her back yard she STILL CANT GET THEM FOR CHRIST SAKES. but when they were analog not a problem. i think its cause everyone thinks digital is gods gift to the world when its really not. its good for some things but not all. When they switched everything to digital they reduced the power and its just the biggest crock of shit. before long radio will be next!

  14. Jay on February 27th, 2011 9:13 am

    Bush should be hung for this. They endanger americans lives. Emergency broadcast is dead. Tornado hurricane warnings are dead cause the wind would blow the antenna. Plus republicans have stakt in converter box companies and portables sold in cvs. Im in detroit n get canadian tvo is public broadcast and cbn is like bbc. None of the filth in us tv. Kkk are behind this. Why do this in wartime. All they really did is hamper our access and the stability of accesin info via this medium. Thus an act of war

  15. Jody Donaldson on March 20th, 2011 1:11 am

    digital tv is the worst thing that has been forced on the American people that I can recall in my lifetime. We’re storming tonight and I can’t watch a thing.

  16. Johnna on May 16th, 2011 7:19 pm

    Are the stupid people who designed digital hearing or listening????? I want back the time when we had the rabbit ears, foil, and the sucker standing funny just watch a show. I work in a place where when I announced that I hate digital, I received 20 looks like huh I know what you mean.
    Missing my shows (I hate) live on a budget!!! Like most, it sucks that this government gives to those who DON”T deserve and care less about the working class who are trying and they don’t care. I would like for the congress to live like I do paycheck to paycheck and worryin about having food and gas to get to work not to mention trying to keep a roof over the head. Let those so called upper powers live like regular people. they would not make it!!!!!!! Bastards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Kiss dirt on June 17th, 2011 11:58 pm

    White power. Dtv sucks

  18. Dorothy Metzger on July 8th, 2011 11:02 am

    We live on 1 of the highest mountains & can’t pick up any stations with an antenna. But, what’s funny, we can pick up a bunch of stations in our camper anywhere we go & that is with an outdoor antenna. Go figure. 🙁

  19. Bamasux on June 24th, 2012 12:01 pm

    I hate this new DTV! When it was still analog I could actually get every channel and all the wind and weather did was make it a little snowy once in a while, but you could still see the image quite well and hear it too! Now if any little bit of wind kicks up or weather the picture drops out and either goes black or does this annoying Max Headroom type repetition of whatever is on over and over and over!!! I have a large rooftop antenna along with a powered inline signal amplifier and I still cannot bring any channel in cleanly unless it’s completely still outside without any bad weather whatsoever and even then some of the channels just for whatever mysterious reason they do not come in at all on some days? The FTC/government completely ruined my ability to watch TV! I cannot afford satellite TV or cable so that’s not a possibility for me! Makes me wonder if that’s the reason these idiots did this? To force everyone to subscribe to one or the other else the ‘free’ TV is so screwed up that it’s not watchable? A pox upon all of them!!! This is not a Conservative or Liberal thing as they are both equally culpable! DTV Engineers my ass! Nuff said….

  20. CharlesMartel on June 4th, 2013 6:43 pm

    Totally agree….The supposedly batter,sharper,crystal clear, 3D-like picture that was promised,is anything but; murky,mushy,fuzzy,bleary ,anything but sharp images, every single station. Maybe I still haven’t hooked it up right – but I seriously doubt it.

  21. Alan Preen on October 14th, 2013 10:35 am

    Our DTV is not bad in perfect weather, with a 50 mile range antenna on a 40 foot pole. If it is cloudy, raining or windy it pixellates and/or dies – at least, some of the stations do. Given that they all come from the same translator I am at a loss to understand how this is possible. Bring back analogue.

  22. jimmy hopkins on February 17th, 2015 2:56 am

    the same thing happend in australia its rubbish here too get some channels on some days then on others cant get them constantly have to rescan to find the channels again we were told you wouldnt even need antenna’s anymore LOL what a load of bs BRING BACK ANALOG!

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