Feds Share Coupons to Help TV Transition - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/2/08

Feds Share Coupons to Help TV Transition

Millions of $40 government coupons become available Tuesday to help low-tech television owners buy special converter boxes for older TVs that might not work after the switch to digital broadcasting.

Beginning February 18, 2009, anyone who does not own a digital set and still gets their programming via over-the-air antennas will no longer receive a picture.

That's the day the television industry completes its transition from old-style analog broadcasting to digital.

The converter boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70 and will be available at most major electronics retail stores. Starting Tuesday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will begin accepting requests for two $40 coupons per household to be used toward the purchase of the boxes.

Viewers who have satellite or cable service will not need a box.

To request a coupon, consumers can apply online.

The government also has set up a 24-hour hotline to take requests, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).

Congress, in ordering the transition to digital broadcasting, set aside $1.5 billion for the coupon program, which will fund 33.5 million coupons and other costs.

The giveaway basically works under the honor system.

The first 22 million coupons will go to all households that request them. That includes a residence that gets cable service for one television but has a spare TV that still uses an antenna, for example.

The rest of the coupons, however, are meant only for those who do not subscribe to a pay-television service.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that 14.3 million households, or about 13 percent of the 112.8 million total television households in the nation, rely on over-the-air television broadcasts for programming.

Tony Wilhelm, director of consumer education for NTIA, said the agency expects to have enough coupons to satisfy demand. "We think the high number will be 26 million," he said. "Low end is 10 million."

Members of Congress have criticized both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission for their work on the transition to digital television.

In November, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, released a report that concluded there is "no comprehensive plan" for the transition.

Most of the concern rests with public education campaigns. While Congress allocated $1.5 billion for the coupon program, only $5 million was for education. The Association for Public Television Stations reported in September that 51 percent of participants surveyed were unaware that the transition was taking place.

Since then, the broadcast industry has announced a voluntary public education campaign. The FCC is circulating a plan among commissioners that would make public education efforts by broadcasters mandatory.

Congress ordered the transition to digital broadcasting to make more efficient use of the publicly owned airwaves.

On January 24, the FCC will auction off the spectrum currently used for analog television. That portion of the airwaves will be sold to wireless providers and is expected to bring in as much as $15 billion. A portion of the spectrum will also be dedicated for use by emergency responders.

Tell us what you think...
kcbd.com Message Boards
Sound off on news or current events on our message boards!

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • Pope Francis to invest 14 new cardinals in June

    Pope Francis to invest 14 new cardinals in June

    Sunday, May 20 2018 6:41 AM EDT2018-05-20 10:41:19 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 1:56 PM EDT2018-05-20 17:56:37 GMT
    (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia). Pope Francis asperges holy water as he celebrates a Pentecost mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, May 20, 2018.(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia). Pope Francis asperges holy water as he celebrates a Pentecost mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, May 20, 2018.

    Pope Francis has announced that he will make 14 new cardinals next month, among them his chief aide for helping homeless people.

    Pope Francis has announced that he will make 14 new cardinals next month, among them his chief aide for helping homeless people.

  • 'Hope and healing': Texas town worships after school attack

    'Hope and healing': Texas town worships after school attack

    Saturday, May 19 2018 11:51 PM EDT2018-05-20 03:51:30 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 1:55 PM EDT2018-05-20 17:55:46 GMT
    (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP). April Salinas, second from right, her daughters Meah, 13, and Macee, 6, and Jeramiah Kelley read notes left at memorial behind Texas First Bank, Saturday, May 19, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. A gu...(Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP). April Salinas, second from right, her daughters Meah, 13, and Macee, 6, and Jeramiah Kelley read notes left at memorial behind Texas First Bank, Saturday, May 19, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. A gu...

    The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from the suspect, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter's best friend.

    The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from the suspect, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter's best friend.

  • Average price of US gas jumps 10 cents, to $3 a gallon

    Average price of US gas jumps 10 cents, to $3 a gallon

    Sunday, May 20 2018 1:31 PM EDT2018-05-20 17:31:27 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 1:52 PM EDT2018-05-20 17:52:37 GMT
    The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. jumped 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.00. (Source: Raycom Image Bank)The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. jumped 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.00. (Source: Raycom Image Bank)

    The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. jumped 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.00.

    The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. jumped 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.00.

Powered by Frankly