Blog Archive

Monday, February 25, 2008

Of Duke and Digital Television

A lot of folks in Glasgow got close to needing CPR on Saturday when, with 55 seconds left in the UK vs. Arkansas men’s basketball game, the screen went blank and suddenly, Duke vs. St. Johns appeared! I was one of them. Of course, my horror might have been a bit more pointed than yours, because when it first went black my knee-jerk reaction was that we might have had some sort of cable programming outage. However, when good old Duke appeared on my screen, it was clear that CBS was the culprit. Then I got this warm feeling that comes from the realization that others can make mistakes - really big ones - that do not come home to roost at the EPB’s door.

I don’t know for sure how long it took CBS to realize their error and cut back to the UK game, it seemed like eternity, but it must have been less than thirty seconds. Of course, like most really big mistakes, this one was much larger than just cutting away from one game for another. This mistake was compounded by the fact that the substitute game involved the team most UK basketball fans love to hate the most . . . the dreaded Duke Blue Devils.

Now, for those of you who called my home or emailed the EPB to protest this occurrence, please snap out of it! The EPB does not get a vote in what CBS, or its broadcast affiliates (of which we have three on our basic tier), display on their channels. I wish we did, but we have no more control over this than we do over what is happening in the United States Congress and we have some really good ideas they should listen to! Rather, we output to you what hits our antennae array on our tower and that is all we have to do with this. But, if you want to call the folks at CBS in New York to add to the hundreds of thousands who have already called them to complain about this mistake, their number is 1-212-975-3247. Of course, there is nothing they can do about it now, the deed is done. It is like some lawyer friends often observe: You can’t un-ring a bell.

But while we are talking about broadcasters and local affiliates, we also need to chat for a minute about the commercials and news items they are bombarding you with relative to the digital broadcast deadline on February 2009. If you are like me, it seems that every single news broadcast I watch on any of our affiliates includes some dire warning about this looming deadline. They make it sound like your television will cease to function on that date. Now, maybe they are just using some sort of new-wave advertising trick and those warnings are really just commercials for Best Buy or Circuit City, but let’s cut straight to the fact. If you are a customer of Glasgow EPB cable, nothing will happen to your ability to view your favorite programming in February 2009. The only thing happening on that date will be that the broadcasters will have to stop sending out their old analog signal. Now, if you happen to still pick up your television programming via an antenna on your home, then you will have a problem. But our cable customers have already been viewing the digital signal from our local broadcasters for over a year. We convert that signal back to analog format so that your televisions, no matter how old, can still pick up the programming. There is nothing to worry about!

Of course, if you have been reading my messages for the last few years, we do have some problems with receiving the digital broadcasts from Louisville and Nashville. This new transmission format was only designed to go about fifty miles, and we all know that we are twice that distance from both Louisville and Nashville. We are doing a number of tricks, at great expense, to retrieve those signals and convert them for you and it is possible that we may need to drop some of those signals in the future. In fact, one of the complaints we get most often is that folks do not like us having three CBS affiliates in a row on channels 8, 9, and 10. Of course, they are only there because we also have very vocal customer that feel the Louisville stations are the only ones we need and we have a similar amount who feel the same about the Nashville stations. Meanwhile, the Bowling Green stations can force us to carry them! So, that is how we wind up with three CBS affiliates.

Of course, after this weekend’s Duke substitution debacle, many may feel that we need no CBS affiliate at all! Of course, that will change too in a few weeks when March Madness kicks off. So, feel free to send your hate along to CBS instead of EPB, and also relax in the knowledge that you don’t have to do anything during the next year to make sure you continue to receive network broadcasts. But, if you have not seen your favorite broadcasts in High Definition . . . well, all I can say is, if you really don’t want to buy a new television, don’t go looking at the HD sets available at any local appliance vendor! A digital HD television really does change your life.