Article Updated January 2, 2008
Happy New Year. Your federal government has a late holiday gift for you. If you follow Televising The Revolution you already know the FCC has set February 19, 2009 as the date when analog television will end its broadcast day and begin to broadcast in digital.
GET YOUR COUPONS HERE
Beginning January 1st, 2008, American consumers will be able to log in to http://www.dtv2009.gov/ and request up to two coupons worth $40 each to assist in purchasing new digital-to-analog converter boxes. Alternately you can call 1-888-DTV2009 to apply over the telephone. Printed applications will also be available at post offices and at public libraries, in English, Spanish, and other languages.
CHECK COUPON IS IN THE MAIL
Once you apply be patient because the coupons won’t be sent out until mid-February of this year. Starting February 18, 2008, the government will send coupons via The US Postal Service in the form of a gift card consumers can use at electronics retailers that sell the set-top converter boxes . Currently the selection of converter boxes on the market is slim but that should improve as more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon over the next several months. As of this writing the converter boxes are retailing for $60. to $70.
BACKED BY UNCLE SAM
The coupon program itself is administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It is backed by $1.5 billion appropriated by Congress and established in Title III of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (PDF)
TELL THEM WHAT THEY’VE WON
What will this “converter box” do for you? Not much more than the basics. According the NTIA proposal the converter box shall:
- appropriately processes all Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) radio frequency (RF) signals provided to the antenna-only input and then provides output signals in standard definition video for display on a National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) television receiver/monitor;
- delivers NTSC composite video and stereo audio to drive NTSC monitors;
- delivers Channel 3 or 4 switchable NTSC RF output for television receivers;
- complies with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements for Closed Captioned, Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the required parental controls;
- operable by and includes a remote control; and
- tunes to all television channels 2-69.
The government is not in the entertainment business. By providing a basic digital to analog converter it wants to make sure it is only paying for the bare minimum to supply people who are using analog receivers with a viable alternative to continue to receive free television from over the airwaves.
For more information, or to sign up for coupons, you can call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit http://www.dtv2009.gov/. -33-