Via an email tip, I was finally able to track down a local infomercial I mentioned back in April that focused on the upcoming digital transition. The infomercial, broadcast periodically on Raleigh’s WRAL, depicted the transition by anthropomorphizing both analog and digital television, presumably to make the shift seem less threatening.
But, as usual, watching one video on YouTube left me curious to see what other representations of the digital transition are out there. Most of them follow a relatively standard consumer-empowerment approach, alerting TV viewers to the upcoming switch and advising them on the most inexpensive way to get continued access to a TV signal, much like this short PSA produced by Consumer Reports. Because there are so many of these PSAs, they have naturally become the object of parody. This video, “Switching to Digital TV,” which parodies the confusion over the government coupon program, is one of the funnier ones, mocking a program that encourages analog TV viewers to go to the internet. That PSA led me to this hilarious anti-cable (“pay TV”) public service announcement that was shown in movie theaters, presumably sometime in the early- or mid-1970s. The short clip, which warns of the dangers of bringing “monsters” into your living room, invited audiences to sign petitions against the pay-TV menace.
In retrospect, I now feel like I may have been a little reductive in my original characterization of the DTV 411 video in that it now looks like one of the more thorough explorations I’ve seen of the digital transition. In addition to offer advice, the video offers a relatively even-handed exploration of the implications of the TV switch. I’ll have to go back to it to say anything more detailed, but it’s actually a really useful text. Props also to WRAL for putting some of their locally-produced documentary content on YouTube. For those of us teaching and dong research in these fields, this is veryhelpful.