are barely one month into the "Yes we can" administration
and we discover that when it comes to the Federal government
moving ahead to modern broadcast technology, "No
Conversion to digital television broadcasting was solidly
underway. A media campaign had educated the public on
the process. If you were on cable or satellite–no problem.
If you had purchased a new television fairly recently–no
problem. And if you had an old television and only used
an antenna to access stations, there has been plenty of
time to get vouchers to purchase a converter.
Some folks procrastinated and the final rush for vouchers
exhausted some supplies. People who put the conversion
off to the last moment might need to go a few days without
TV—there is a price for procrastination. And true, digital
signals will not permeate as far into rural areas as analog.
But postponing for more months will not solve that.
Switching to digital signals is just a small baby step
toward eventually providing quality high definition broadcasting
that most of the developed world already has.
But the new federal administration got cold feet and postponed
the conversion until June 12.
All Kansas broadcasters were prepared to go ahead and
make the change on February 17 anyway. Good for progressive
But the FCC has strong-armed some of them into backing
off and postponing their changeover. Threatened with not
fulfilling their public service quota if they lose some
unconverted viewers in rural areas, some Kansas broadcasters
felt they had a Federal gun to their head and decided
to postpone. But some Kansas stations are going ahead
with the February 17 conversion anyway. They, and not
the Feds, have the "Yes, we can" attitude.
As an teacher, I am dismayed by the loss of quality media
in schoolrooms these last 15 years. And modernizing broadcast
television is part of the driving force that could return
us to quality. When we had the old 16mm films, we had
infinite pixels and infinite color on big screens in classrooms..
Films were memorable. The conversion to videotape played
on televisions made classroom media terribly inferior
and forgettable. The more the U.S. drags our feet upgrading
media standards, the longer our students go without seeing
quality video or having world-class media in their classrooms.
There are still almost no high definition science DVDs
on the market. We have to go through digital to get to
universal high definition. This change is necessary. So
is change preventing any more competing platforms that
are not compatible, such as HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, a repeat
of the Beta versus VHS fiasco. From media standards to
metric conversion, we will need dramatic changes to catch
up educationally with the developed world.
Seventeen years ago, the citizens of Japan and Europe
watched the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain on high definition
television. We are long overdue for change. We had hope
in this new administration. Federal actions so far show
absolutely no "change we can believe in."
John Richard Schrock trains teachers and lives in Emporia.