The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the government agency tasked with managing the DTV transition, has awarded IBM a $120 million contract to administer the digital-to-analog converter coupon program.
IBM, following the Congressional mandate, will — starting Jan. 1, 2008 — make available upon request two $40 coupons for each home for use in purchasing a converter box to receive over-the-air digital broadcast signals. The converters will be necessary for analog sets to receive terrestrial television signals after the Feb. 17, 2009, analog shut down.
The NTIA said IBM will provide consumer education, coupon distribution to consumers, oversee retail store participation and financial processing to reimburse retailers. It will also maintain all records and prevent waste, fraud and abuse.
IBM revealed that it will share the contract with three partners including Ketchum, the corporate PR film; Epiq Systems, a legal transaction processing firm; and Corporate Lodging Consultants, a firm that provides customized lodging programs to corporations and the federal government.
The NAB expressed satisfaction with the choice of IBM and its team. “The success of the converter box coupon program is critical to upgrading America to digital television. NAB looks forward to working with NTIA and IBM to ensure all Americans continue to have access to free, over-the-air television,” said Jonathan Collegio, vice president of the NAB’s digital television transition unit.