February 4, 2009

Television, a right?

I'm a little confused by civil rights groups taking up this digital TV transition issue. Is television a right? While appreciate that that some people don't know about it, they'll find out sooner if we do the transition and their TV stops working. What are the chances of every single person in America knowing? The only idea I've had this morning is that a mailing be sent to every address in the country. Any other ideas? Any arguments in favor of television being a right? The Founding Fathers couldn't add that one, because TV didn't exist yet ... but somehow I don't think it would have fallen in with free speech, bearing arms, and trial by jury. Thoughts?


  1. I have two answers to the above question. #1, television is not an inherent right, no more than driving a car is. However, limiting access to television based on gender, race, age would be discriminatory. But, people still have to pay money to watch television or secure the ability to own and operate a car. Which leads me to my next point - even if television (access or owning one) is a right, the government is not required to provide people with it. For example, take the right to bear arms - the government can impose fees for registering a gun, a gun license, concealed carry permit, etc. They can also change gun laws (true, the NRA has a strong lobby), and not be required to mail a letter to every address in the city/state/country affected. I think that the government has been more than generous in offering the $40 vouchers, and the networks have taken it upon themselves to advertise the switch (NBC uses their stars to do short clips). If people use their TVs regularly, they should know that some change is coming and can't plead ignorance.

  2. i don't know about TV being a right [maybe like with the right to bear arms, you have the right to watch TV, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pay your cable bill], but i feel like as long as access is provided to everyone regardless of class, etc. then it's fine. since the government is providing vouchers, it seems that everyone should be able to afford the switch.

  3. I think mostly, I'm ready for it to be over. Even PBS has done ads to keep people informed! There are probably better causes that our leaders and rights groups could spend their time on.

    I came up with the best solution: "the government" could buy us all sweet HD TVs to help ease the transition. Should I call my Congressman? :)