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DTV Transition Coupon Program Out of Funds

January 8, 2009

By Jennifer Hull

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced that the agency has reached its $1.3 billion ceiling to provide funds in the form of coupons for the purchase of DTV converter boxes. As a result, as of January 4 the NTIA is placing consumers who request coupons from the DTV Converter Box Coupon Program on a waiting list. Coupons will be mailed on a first-come-first-served basis as funds from expired coupons become available.

The coupon program helps households with analog televisions--not connected to cable, satellite, or other pay TV service--to buy a converter box so the TV works when full-power TV broadcasters transition from analog to 100 percent digital broadcasts on February 17, 2009.

Message to Consumers on DTV2009.gov Website

When consumers contact the NTIA by phone or by visiting the agency's www.DTV2009.gov website to request DTV converter box coupons, they will receive a message confirming their placement on a waiting list to receive coupons as funds become available. Consumers will receive a reference number to check the status of their order at any time.

"Households need to consider all of their options and act now to be prepared for the February 17 transition to digital television," said acting NTIA administrator Meredith Attwell Baker. "We are working with Congress, the incoming Administration, and other stakeholders to ensure everyone is prepared for the transition and no one is left in the dark."

High Demand for DTV Converter Box Coupon Program

To date, 24 million households have requested more than 46 million coupons and more than 18 million coupons have been redeemed. Consumers holding coupons should redeem them before the coupon expires -- 90 days from the date the coupon was mailed. To date, 52.5 percent of coupons requested have been redeemed and more than 13 million coupons have expired.

Consumers receiving free, over-the-air television on analog televisions will need to act quickly to ensure their televisions continue to work when full-power television stations go all-digital in February. Viewers of over-the-air televisions need to check each analog TV set in their home that is not connected to cable, satellite, or other pay television service to determine if they need a converter box or any other new equipment. Options include subscribing to cable, satellite, or pay television service; replacing their analog set with a digital TV; or using a converter box on their analog set to receive digital signals. A converter box, which costs $40 to $80, may be purchased with or without a coupon.