The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.The molasses-paced rollout of digital has taken longer than most ever imagined. The cable industry was making grand pronouncements about their digital plans back in 1992. Understandably, regulators were given an overly optimistic view of the not-so-distant future. Former CRTC chair Françoise Bertrand once told me her biggest surprise about the launch of the existing specialty channels was that they were all introduced in analog.  There are many reasons for this apparent foot dragging. There is still no consensus on how to migrate (or duplicate) analog services onto digital, and no agreement on a code of conduct for equitable carriage of the newly licensed services. Cable operators, in particular, are also fearful that if the digital launch isn’t done just right, consumers will turn off digital TV for the time being. Negative option marketing may be a thing of the past, but its impact is still lingering with many consumers. Viewers want to see something fresh and affordable, and something that gives them what they’ve always demanded – choice. Another outstanding issue is the lack of a technical standard for interactivity – that great promise that comes with digital. Proprietary standards may make sense to patent holders, but not to consumers. Then, of course, there’s the uncertainty with the economy. Launching new channels at a time when consumers are curbing discretionary spending is risky, particularly when these new channels require a new piece of hardware on top of your TV set. This month, Decima Publishing will be asking Canadians in a nation-wide poll whether they are interested in spending money this fall to receive more channels, and if so, what channels pique their interest. We’ll also ask how they’d prefer to buy these channels: à la carte or as part of a package. The results will be revealing. Hopefully, as Paul Martin likes to brag, Canada can weather the economic storm better than its neighbours to the south. If not, new digital channels and distributors could be facing a long hard road ahead.