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Congress Wants More Coupon Info From NTIA

Political appointee Meredith Attwell Baker, acting boss of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, can’t start cleaning out her desk quite yet.

Congress—specifically Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich, the House Commerce Committee chairman, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet—have given Baker what could be her last homework assignment for this job.

The lawmakers this week sent a list of questions about remaining issues in the DTV converter box coupon program.

Among the questions, they asked Baker if she supports community groups and others using their own identities to get coupons and then donate them to the needy or hard-to-reach, or those whose coupons have been lost in the mail, those who live in facilities (such as nursing homes) without their own personal address, and those whose coupons have expires.

Noting a potential surplus in coupon funds, they asked several questions about repealing or waiving the limit on coupons (currently just one) that housholds with cable and satellite can order.

They also ask, based on the experience with the early analog shutoff in Wilmington, N.C., how many coupons do you estimate were lost in the mail during that switchover, and in general how many coupons does NTIA estimate, by percentage, are being lost in the mail nationally.

The lawmakers gave Baker until Oct. 31 to provide answers.