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DTV coupon requirements waived for nursing homes, P.O. boxes

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has proposed waiving its DTV converter coupon requirements to allow nursing home residents and those with post office boxes to apply for the coupons.

The change came in a notice of proposed rulemaking that was published last week in the Federal Register. Originally, the government agency used a definition of qualifying household that did not include either nursing homes or those with post office boxes.

As a result, questions were raised on Capitol Hill about how some seniors and rural viewers — two of the populations most affected by the DTV switch — were going to get the coupons. Some members of Congress, such as Sen.Ted Stevens, R-AK, are from states where many rural populations use post office boxes.

The NTIA is supplying $40 coupons, up to two per household, which will allow analog TVs receiving signals over their air to continue to receive full-power TV station signals when those switch over to digital in February 2009.