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The DTV transition delay could end up costing over $500 million

Ben Drawbaugh
February 6, 2009
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Earlier this week the powers that be voted to delay the DTV transition by four months to give more time for 5.8 million Americans to get ready. Part of the reason that many weren't ready though is that there weren't enough converter box coupons to go around -- something we all knew would happen a year ago. The cost to give every one of these people a coupon would've been about $232 million; but even if we would've gave them all two, it still would've been cheaper than the cost of a four month delay. Keep in mind that we're not mathematicians -- we did a few quick calculations and if you only include the costs we're aware of, this thing will cost us over $500 million. This doesn't include all the extra converter box coupons that are still needed. Our math is pretty simple, you take the 8,839 TV stations in America, times $10,000 per month to run the extra transmitter -- never mind the carbon footprint -- multiple it times four months and you're at over $353 million. But unfortunately that isn't all the money that's on the table. Now we admit we have no idea how much the delay will cost the winners of the spectrum auction, but if you just calculate the amount of interest on $20 billion dollars the government expects to receive, even at a low 3 percent for four months, and you get $200 million -- and that isn't even compounded. But hey how can you put a price on America's real favorite past time? Although the real kick in the head is that even after four months, we fully expect there will still be 2 million people that are not ready.

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