I hope they get the money.
First, TV is more than just entertainment. It is news, weather, and educational programming. To say we shouldn't fund converter boxes because there is entertainment programming is like saying libraries should stop using taxpayer money to buy newspapers and TVs. I mean, newspapers have entertainment content like fluff stories and coupons AND they are relatively cheap, so why waste money on something so inexpensive and easily obtainable by our citizens.
TV provides some rather important content. Some local, national, and international news is given only through television broadcasts. Additionally, a weather radio cannot provide radar maps and graphics that help inform people better about existing weather conditions. Our society has chosen to arrange itself this way.
Second, not everyone who isn't buying a box is doing so because they are cheap. Believe it or not, there are some families that are just not making in our society because of evaporating jobs and a failing economy. Not all are welfare bums. (In the 80s my local paper analyzed Wisconsin's welfare when "work 2 welfare" was the big push - the average recipient was on it less than 6 months and were white middle class families that suffered a job loss... think we'll see many of those during this recession?) For many, $50 is the difference between making rent or eating - so how do they justify getting kicked out or starving their kids in order to keep access to news, weather, and educational programming? How should they feel knowing the government is making money selling off the slices of the spectrum they just freed up, and that the government only cares about making sure those who have access to "free" TV are the ones who can afford to shell out $50 like it doesn't matter?
Third, and this may be a shocker to some, but not all households consist of one family. Heck, in my early 20s we had 3 distinct family units living in one apartment. I know of many people who rent out a room or a section of their home to another family to supplement housing costs. So if we say only one box per address under the assumption of one household per address, who gets the coupon - first on the lease, first alphabetically by last name, or first to apply at that address?
Finally, anyone can say is it *my* job to do so and so. Is it *my* job to provide for snow plowing or road repairs when I don't use a car? If I walk everywhere, why should I pay for you to get somewhere on a road in a car? Is it *my* job to help subsidize your kids through child tax credits - I mean, it was your stupid idea to make the thing so you should be able to care for it. Is it *my* job to make sure your house never burns down - I mean, if you need fire service then you should pay for it, otherwise you should take precautions to protect your residence from fire. Is it *my* job to pay for any form of public transport? - take a cab or hire a limo driver if you need to get somewhere. I can afford my own car, why should I give a darn about you?
There are always things in a society we do not want to pay for that are done for the common good. As we become a more wireless society, we need to free up bandwidth on the spectrum to send all those signals. To help those enjoy more TV and wireless broadcasting devices, the government wants to go from analog to digital signals. This may disenfranchise many lower or fixed income households from information sources you may not consider or care about. However, they do - it may be their primary outlet. Thus, since we are changing the common rules of our society in a fairly sudden and abrupt way, we as individuals in this society have an obligation to see that all have a chance to maintain their status quo while the wealthier citizens reap the rewards.