The UK government has set something like 2010 for its analogue switch-off plans, with the US perhaps aiming to do so sooner in 2006. With one stroke, millions of units of TV equipment will become redundant. Or will they? Partly. Those without a dedicated digital box (and bear in mind that digital boxes currently only tune one channel at a time, so you need a box per television) will showing nothing but static.
Unless they have a games console plugged into them.
Now, the TV Licensing Authority has long since squeezed a license fee out of consumers who don't watch TV, on the basis that such equipment is set up to receive analogue broadcasts by default. One wonders if they'll have as much success 'detecting' tuner use when the analogue spectrum is no longer used for TV services... I'm sure they'll try... but, lest I become sidetracked, I'm going to pitch the suggestion I made above. All those analogue TVs are going to be extremely useful for DVD watching, hooking up VCRs to for playback, and as games console monitors. As some people lack room for multiple units, they're also going to fall in price on the second-hand market, so picking up larger TVs for those uses will be very feasible.
This all suits me down to the ground, of course. I rarely watch TV, and certainly wouldn't pay a license fee all on my lonesome. If I found myself living with flatmates prepared to split a license fee several ways, I doubt I'd disoblige. But I can very much see the point of hooking a PS2 up to a nice screen to watch films and play a few games on.
Even if console manufacturers don't automatically ship aerial adaptors with their products (and Sony already don't, for example) there'll be a secondary market ripe for companies who can make old TVs quite useful again. We see this already in computer markets—bash together something which meets health & safety regs and performs the limited job it's sold for capably, and it'll capture a niche.
Then, when there is something I want to watch, the pay-per-view system everyone will no doubt have been straight-jacketed into by 2010 won't seem so bad. After all, I'll hardly use it. Not at all, in fact, if I don't like the packages on offer.
I wonder how many other people are like me, and whether programme makers and channel operators realise how little of their content would be purchased in a pay-per-view market? And how many people will be watching a few films, playing a few games, and generally pursuing other leisure activities... more than a few, I'd wager...
Just to be completely random, here are some extracts (or at least some of the vaguely interesting bits) I found scrawled in Sally's diary of Poland. Profile fun! Or something. :)
Jennifer Teacher, er, Kelly
Queen / Hollywood starlet / Bread momma
Likes: bread & butter, sausage dogs, tiny cats, cute monster boys, cherry vodka + whatever + bloody nice cocktails, blowing kisses, saying 'Joshua'... Dislikes: sexual tension in her bedroom (when she's not involved), upsetting Prague hamper, being accused of Thundercat hair.
Keeps a smile even when the shit hits the fan.
Likes: men, especially young innocent ones from Durham, strong cigarettes, beer, cynicism. Dislikes: unwanted fucking music, toilet charges, lack of toilet paper, carrot fucking juice, lunchtime hamper including bag of fucking peppers, unwanted fucking shoulder hair.
Number of days in Poland: 24. Number of times drunk: 24+
--arm wrestling/heart disease
--chipped hip (ditch, puppy)
--meningitis (hmm) 5 minute stint
Likes: madogs, whisky, 60 cigarettes/day, women, ketchup, goats [squiggle]
A 20 year old theology student from Durham. Robu spent a wholesome three weeks getting to grips with his female students in a variety of ways.
Likes: Jacko, lody, fretkas, Natalie Portman, chinese food, American women, pizza, food, food, films, waitresses, breasts, sitting, relaxation, unbridled cynicism, Rachel [heart heart heart] Dislikes: mountains, right wing Christianity, ex-gf's bf (could take with ease), Duluth being 6000 miles away.