Digital is a much cleaner and ghostless signal. It is far superior to the old analog signal. So why wait? It doesn't affect most views because most views have cable, a satellite dish or fiber optic TV connection anyway. It is for those Flintstones out there that are sill using the roof antenna or worse rabbit ears.
The government issued $40 coupons, limit of 2 per family, to help alleviate the cost. Sure if you buy you converter box in a store like CVS or Sears that would make you responsible for $10 to $20 per box. If you went to a place like Target it could cost you only $5 or just the tax at Walmart. (Tell me again why NYC is against Walmart?)
It is the same thing when they tried to push the metric system on us. It is much more logical than the English system. BUT they left people an alternative and they ignored it and it just plain didn't work.
If the actually need more funding to help the turnover then fine extend it. You would think the ABCs and NBCs of the world would help fund it as well. They don't want to lose their audience.