Beginning in the 1930s, televisions began making their way into American homes and began to have much greater influence in the home than anyone could have ever anticipated. The television is now a way for political leaders, journalists, performers, and advertisers to communicate with billions of Americans on a daily basis, and has become a staple in the home. As the pace of modern advancement quickened, TVs were not left behind in the technological revolution. More American homes turned to digital broadcasting technology for higher quality images and a greater number of channels, thereby giving consumers a greater variety of programming, as well as allowing for more high tech features.
This has also contributed to the demand for high-definition TVs, and a race among companies to improve picture quality more and more as technology improved. However, while a good number of people rushed to electronics stores and purchased more expensive TV sets, an even larger number of people were still relying on their analog TVs as a primary source for much of the information they received. The Federal Communications Commission recognized this fact when, in 2007, they made the decision that all broadcasting stations would transition from analog broadcasting to digital broadcasting by February 17, 2009. Since switching from analog to digital signals meant that analog TVs in American homes across the country would be rendered useless, the FCC decided to make several announcements about the availability of digital converter boxes, which would sell at a price ranging from 40 to 80 dollars per box, and would convert the digital signal into an analog signal for one TV per box. In order to help people who couldn't afford these boxes, the government offered 20 dollar coupons for each box, providing a maximum of two converter box coupons per household. This measure, however, did not prepare millions of American's TVs for the switch, mainly due to a shortage of coupons that greatly hindered consumers' ability to purchase the converters for their TVs in time. Because of this, the United States Congress voted to extend the deadline for all broadcasting stations to switch to digital to June 12, 2009.
This extension allowed many more people to prepare for the switch than the number that would have been ready for the February deadline. When the switch was completed, the FCC received a record number of phone calls concerning complaints about peoples' TVs not working correctly, mostly because of converter box problems, issues with finding channels that had switched frequencies with the conversion, and reception issues. In the end, these changes to the way that Americans' TVs function improved the way that people watch television, and improved channel availability. While a good number of households were not prepared for the switch, it is anticipated that they will eventually resolve the problem, slowly but surely. An unexpected benefit that has resulted from the switch has been the increase in the number of TVs that have been recycled, increasing environmental benefits. This switch represents technological advancement that touches all segments of American society, democratizing progress and using TVs as its vehicle.