Friday, November 21, 2008

An Analog Kind of Town, Now and Forever

Earlier this week Chronicle business writer Brad Hem apprised us of a revealing statistic regarding the true essence of Our Town in a story about the rapidly approaching government-mandated switch from analog to digital TV signals:
A Nielsen survey last month found nearly 16 percent of Houston households are not ready for the digital television conversion, giving the area the dubious distinction of being the least-prepared in the country with an analog-only rate that’s more than double the national average. Nearly one in four Houstonians gets a TV signal free over the air, which means a lot of people here need to take action before the change.
Further investigation into these Nielson rankings suggests that the large number of Spanish-language TV watchers here may account for Houston's poor showing in the digital-ready sweepstakes (Dallasites are only a wee bit better "prepared" for the switcheroo, but the Spanish-language factor can't explain Milwaukee's lack of preparedness ... can it?).

We'd like to think this survey points to something winning about Houston: that it's still a whiskey-and-trombone town full of wary traditionalists who, whatever their dominant tongue, get along fine with a morning dose of Indio Apache or a bracing evening shot of Matlock on Channel 55 and would rather go without television than bow to a bureaucrat's whim and have their routines interrupted by somebody's idea of "progress." More than likely, though, these late adapters just haven't heard about the change or haven't been able to come up with the scratch for their share of the government-subsidized converter doo-hickey.

Whatever the case, we're afraid that our local tastemakers will see this "dubious distinction" as more evidence of our utter lack of World Class-ness and another obstacle in their efforts to remake the place as a Floridian destination for those goatee-stroking "creative class" types with the uncanny alchemical ability to conjure capital from the digital ether.

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