Monday, June 15, 2009

True Deadline

I watched a video online last week of WYFF, the NBC affiliate in Greenville, SC, flip the switch to change all of their broadcasting from analog to digital. They did it with a lot of ceremony. They had the reporter in the room with the CEO of WYFF, and a host of other people. They then showed a gentleman, in the transmission room, on top of Caesar’s Head, who shut down the analog signal for good at exactly 7am on Friday June 12th.

Like many other stations, they actually did not stop broadcasting in analog at 7am. They simply stopped showing television programs. What analog viewers saw was a phone number to call if they were having any trouble with their digital converter box, or had any questions.

Congress passed the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act in October of 2005. This legislation called for the end of analog programming on February 17, 2009. The legislation even allowed families, who did not have cable or satellite television, to request up to 2 coupons per household to purchase a converter box so their television service would not be interrupted. These coupons were available from January 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009. As the end of 2008 neared, broadcasters also spent billions of dollars on publicizing the switch to digital on February 17, 2009.

As the February deadline approached, it was clear to many that Americans were not ready for the switch. Even with all of the publicity on radio, television, billboards, and over the internet, people still had not purchased the converter boxes or requested the coupons. In fact, the Nielsen Company estimated that 5.8 million homes were not ready for the switch in February.

The government decided to move the deadline to June 12th, to give people more time to change. However, between Friday June 12th and Saturday June 13th, over 700,000 people called a federal hotline. One third of the calls were legitimate issues with converter boxes. Twenty percent of the calls were concerns about reception issues. Another third, however, were from people asking where to get the coupons to get converter boxes that have been available since January of 2008. In fact, The Commerce Department said that on Friday alone, 319,990 requests for the coupons were made.

If all of this happens when we are aware of a deadline date; what happens when we know something is going to happen, but do not know when? Jesus assures us that He is going to return to earth again someday. He does not give the time, day, month or year. He simply says that He will return and for us to be ready. Will you be ready when He returns or will you be trying to dial the hotline to get more time?

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
(Matthew 24:42-44 NKJV)

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
(Luke 12:35-40 NIV)

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