DTV and FCC

Alphabet soup, anyone?

The FCC chairman has spoken against delaying the switch from analog to digital television signals. Wonder if it is because those who have paid the FCC roughly $19 billion are complaining in his ear?

FCC chairman: DTV delay could cause confusion

By PETER SVENSSON

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Postponing the turnoff of analog TV broadcasts beyond the scheduled date, Feb. 17, could confuse consumers, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission warned Saturday.

Oh, you mean more confused than we already are?

“There are options they can do without having to delay to get coupons flowing immediately,” Martin said. Congress could give the program additional funding, or eliminate the 90-day expiration deadline on the coupons, he said.

And how would that help? Really, how would it help?

“I’m concerned about a delay in the sense that if you can solve that issue other ways, a delay has actually the potential to confuse consumers,” said Martin, a Republican. “All of our messaging has been about Feb. 17 – not just ours – the industry’s.”

The Feb. 17 date has been widely advertised by local TV stations.

(snip)

Democratic FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, speaking at a panel discussion at the show, said he understood the call for a delay.

“This program has been badly mismanaged. It’s not ready for prime time,” he said. “There are so many elements of the preparation that have not been undertaken … We don’t have program in place in the field to help people who need assistance in their homes. The phone banks are inadequately prepared.”

The “show” they mention in the article is the International Consumer Electronics Show. How awful to have to be in Las Vegas, right Mr. Martin? We consumers are wondering, though, just whose money did you put down on the blackjack table?

Analog to Digital

I have long thought that the switch from analog to digital television signals was a mistake. Somebody is making money from this. Why else do it? And that group making the money is the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) which has made roughly $19 billion (yes, billion) from the sale of the wireless frequencies analog television occupies. The FCC has been auctioning off spectrum slots/sections. A local example is what happened to a rock station here in Asheville a few years ago. WZLS had the rights, allotted by the FCC, to a radio frequency. However, the FCC later auctioned that frequency and WZLS and its friends didn’t have the funds to keep it. After a lengthy legal battle, the station was forced off the air. What this means is that only those groups or individuals with the funds can be assured of frequency allotments. Public radio has also suffered as high income church groups buy up their frequencies and push them off the air. (we all know Satan is heavily involved in the public radio segment, right?)

Then came the news that the coupon program (the gov’t offered coupons to help the purchase of converter boxes for people who use antennas) has run out of money. They were allowed only $1.34 billion to go toward those coupons. (19 – 1.34 = 17.66) The FCC has given grants toward educating the public (roughly 10 million in-house for their call center and 8.4 million for 12 groups such as the AARP). So subtract 18.4 million from the 17.66 billion (no clue how to do this myself) and you can see that there’s still nearly 17 billion US dollars available….somewhere.

Source for data: Coupon woes are only part of digital TV concerns

Airport Security

An article over at WiredNews has me thinking.Let me explain. If you’re caught at airport security with a bomb or a gun, the screeners aren’t just going to take it away from you. They’re going to call the police, and you’re going to be stuck for a few hours answering a lot of awkward questions. You may be arrested, and you’ll almost certainly miss your flight. At best, you’re going to have a very unpleasant day.

Airport Pasta-Sauce Interdiction Considered Harmful

Airport security found a jar of pasta sauce in my luggage last month. It was a 6-ounce jar, above the limit; the official confiscated it, because allowing it on the airplane with me would have been too dangerous. And to demonstrate how dangerous he really thought that jar was, he blithely tossed it in a nearby bin of similar liquid bottles and sent me on my way.

(…)

This is why articles about how screeners don’t catch every — or even a majority — of guns and bombs that go through the checkpoints don’t bother me. The screeners don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough. No terrorist is going to base his plot on getting a gun through airport security if there’s decent chance of getting caught, because the consequences of getting caught are too great.

Contrast that with a terrorist plot that requires a 12-ounce bottle of liquid. There’s no evidence that the London liquid bombers actually had a workable plot, but assume for the moment they did. If some copycat terrorists try to bring their liquid bomb through airport security and the screeners catch them — like they caught me with my bottle of pasta sauce — the terrorists can simply try again. They can try again and again. They can keep trying until they succeed. Because there are no consequences to trying and failing, the screeners have to be 100 percent effective. Even if they slip up one in a hundred times, the plot can succeed.

(link to full article)

What the author of the article is missing is something my brother and I thought of last year when we all flew to Orlando. They flew there from Philly, I came from Charlotte. We met in the Orlando airport. At that point, we’d all already gone through security checkpoints. We’d all been cleared and have the legal amount of allowable liquids.

What Kev and I thought of was this: including the kids, there were 5 of us, each with potentially 3-9oz of liquid. That’s a total of 15-45oz of liquid. All beyond the security check point. All from two different airports standing around in a 3rd airport. What’s to keep someone from collecting the liquids from the others and getting in a plane with enough to do whatever it is they can do with it?

Or are we missing something in this liquid terrorist hoopla? Do they swipe the quart bags for explosives like they do my dangerous CPAP machine and the laptops?