Digital TV Converter Coupons

The government agency providing free coupons to help people buy digital TV converter boxes has run out of money, and no more coupons will be available until the agency gets more money. Jim Bell explains.


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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has sent out millions of coupons that are worth $40 dollars of the cost of a converter box that will allow TV sets not on cable or satellite systems to keep working after the broadcast channels go digital on February 17th.  People applying for a coupon on the NTIA website are told that no coupons are available because money to back up the coupons has run out.  NTIA spokesman Bart Forbes says coupon seekers just need to be patient.

“People who call in requesting coupons now will be put on a waiting list, and as funds are de-obligated from expired coupons, those funds will be re-obligated to the new coupon request.” 

That’s bookkeeper talk for an accounting procedure that allows limited funding to be recycled back into a program as coupons are redeemed, and Forbes says people who didn’t wait till the last few weeks are getting them and redeeming them. 

“This has been a tremendously successful program. In fact as we’ve been encouraging to apply, buy and try before December 31, 2008, we’ve received requests for over seven million coupons.  So people who did not wait for the last minute have been pleasantly surprised that we’ve been able to follow through on their request.”

Forbes says the switch to digital TV is on schedule for midnight February 17th, six weeks from now, and people who order a coupon now can count on getting it before that deadline. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.

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