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Everybody Knows What No One Knows

I just read a story about how no one knows about the digital TV transition--for about the hundredth time on as many news outlets. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anyone left in the English-speaking world who doesn’t realize that no one knows about the digital TV transition. The overwhelming ignorance about the digital TV transition is becoming the biggest story of the year.

I’m getting a sense I’ll have to find something else about which to feel superior. I once was among the select few who knew that no one knew. Now everyone knows that no one knows and no one cares that I knew it before they did.

Oh, every once in a while someone will throw me a bone. An online reader asked how to know if her TVs were analog or digital, and whether she needed converter boxes. I cleverly diffused the situation by asking her how old her TV sets were. All more than 10 years old, she said.

“You’ll need a converter for the sets in your house not hooked up to cable or satellite service,” said I, teevee pundit.

It could be that no one knows about the digital transition because a lot of stories about how no one knows about the digital transition have too many words, like this sentence.

I’m looking at a story this very moment that makes me wonder if vermin will rain from the sky.

“The idea seemed simple enough,” it begins. “Become more cost effective and make emergency response communication easier. Making that happen, however, is causing some grief among consumers as they struggle to figure out whether or not they will be impacted by the change.”

I suppose I would be aggrieved if caught in a shower of rats, but that’s not what the story is about. It’s about the digital transition, and it’s not unlike the 100 other stories I’ve read about the digital transition, and how no one knows about it.


The digital transition is getting the kind of news treatment that Hollywood applies to natural disasters. Whistling people go about their business while beneath the bustling streets of Los Angeles, roiling magma is about to shoot through manhole covers and roast all but the very good looking.

The fever pitch is such that the Consumer Electronics Association has launched a campaign to have Cloris Leachman sing “Danny Boy,” while wearing a set of tinfoil rabbit ears because her agent could not sign her onto a reality show.

Nearly 9 million people have applied for converter box coupons, which they will stuff in their pocketbooks beneath the Schnucks card until next Feb. 17 when they realize they need a converter, if they actually do, and the coupon will have expired nine months earlier.

The story of no one knowing about the digital transition was a lot more interesting when no one actually knew that no one knew. Now it’s impossible to say that no one knew that no one knew because everyone knows that no one knows, even the people who don’t know.

This travesty is clearly the fault of the media.

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