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Martin asks retailers coalition to carry low-cost DTV converter

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wrote the head of the Consumer Electronics Retailer Coalition (CERC) on Sept. 15 to ask for help in getting a specific DTV converter box, or one similar to it, onto the shelves of major retailers.

In the letter, Chairman Kevin Martin requested Christopher McLean encourage major retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack, Sears and Wal-Mart to make the EchoStar TR40 converter box or an equivalent available at their locations.

Martin’s interest in the EchoStar converter or equivalent is twofold. First, the converter is priced at $40, making it essentially free to consumers who redeem their $40 converter box coupon from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Secondly, the EchoStar TR40 converter comes with analog pass-through capability.

While the EchoStar TR40 is available via phone and online, shipping changes mean consumers must pay about $10 for the box. According to Martin’s letter, making the box or its equivalent available at major retailers is an “important way for CERC and its members to further assist the monumental task of completing the digital transition.”

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