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Fed: Converter Coupon Demand, Transition Challenges High

9 Apr, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

With about 10 months remaining before U.S. broadcasters switch from analog to digital over-the-air transmissions, federal officials said a significant number of affected households have applied for discount coupons for converter boxes that enable continued viewing on analog televisions.

Broadcasters will switch from analog to digital transmission Feb. 17, 2009.

The government is offering eligible households two $40 coupons toward the purchase of a digital converter box, which range in price from $60 to $80.

Since April 7, 5.2 million households had requested nearly 9.9 million coupons, of which 48% said they depended entirely on over-the-air broadcasts.

About 60% of requests have come from the Internet, 38% by phone and 1.6% through the mail, according to the government.

Since April 4 consumers had redeemed 280,128 coupons.

“With 10 million coupons requested, the TV Converter Box Coupon Program is running strong,” said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, in a statement. “While we are pleased with this high level of participation and the program so far, challenges remain, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is working hard to ensure a smooth transition.”

Principle concerns include Spanish-language households, nursing homes, senior citizens and the handicapped.

Separately, the Consumer Electronics Association cast Florence Henderson (TV's The Brady Bunch) in a series of Convert Your Mom TV spots to help get the word out to seniors and families.

Information is available at 1-888-DTV-2009 and www.dtv2009.gov.

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