DTV Converter Coupons Program Commences

The federal government started taking applications for DTV converter coupons this week. The converters will be necessary for legacy analog TV sets to decode digital signals once TV goes all-digital in February, 2009.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration went live with a Web site at to take applications for the $40 coupons. The setup is straightforward�name, address, establishing cable or satellite service; number of coupons applied for (up to two), and a �signature� box. Checking it means, �you declare that the above is true and correct.�

The completed form spits out a confirmation with a reference number and the caveat: �IMPORTANT:
TV converter boxes are not expected to be available in retail stores until late February or early March. You will receive your coupon(s) then. The coupon will expire within 90 days from the date it is issued.�

Congress mandated the expiration period so people couldn�t set on their coupons and hold up the program for late-coming applicants. Lawmakers set up the $1.5 billion subsidy program two years ago when it established the February deadline.

Converters boxes must be certified by the NTIA to qualify for the subsidy. The agency has certified 11 so far, and they�re expected to be on parade at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. This list includes:
--DigitalSTREAM D2A1D10
--DigitalSTREAM D2A1D20
--Zenith DTT900
--Magnavox TB100MW9
--Philco TB150HH9
--MicroGEM MG2000
--Sansonic FT300RT
--MaxMedia MMDTVB03
--Apex DT1001
--Echostar TR-40
--AMTC AT-2016

The NTIA will hold a public meeting on the promoting the program Jan. 24, 2008 at 2 p.m ET at the Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Rm. 4830, in Washington, D.C. More information about the meeting is available from Mary Lou Kenny at (202) 482-9114 or