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DTV Converter Coupon Program to Restarts

WASHINGTON: The funds to jumpstart the economy are on deck to resuscitate the federal government’s DTV converter-box subsidy program. The money reached the agency in charge of the program this week, B&Creported. Dispensation is expected to resume next week.

Funds for the program in early January and it ground to a halt. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the managing agency, had to put as many as 4.1 million subsidy applications on hold until Congress could either cut loose more money or revoke the 90-day expiration date on millions of dead subsidy coupons already in the market.

The economic stimulus package passed in February allotted another $650 million to the program, which had topped out $1.5 billion (including admin costs). The DTV Delay Act, which moved the end date for shutting down analog broadcast signals from Feb. 17 to June 12, also included a provision for replacing expired coupons, though additional administrative rules were required to actually do so.

NTIA officials said the agency expected to clear the waiting list within three weeks. While the NTIA had to wait for its stimulus check before going to the Post Office to mail coupons, it continue printing coupons, GraphicArtsOnlinereports. A print-run of 48 million coupons, which resemble plastic CVS cards, continued uninterrupted.