Michigan congressman urges consumers to order converter box coupons soon

Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, does not trust the government to warn his constituents of the changes in digital television. In messages to both constituents at home in Michigan and to citizens throughout the nation, he is urging them to get converter box coupons now.

“Digital technology allows broadcasters to offer multiple channels of programming,” Dingell said in a letter posted on the Internet. “Today, many broadcasters are using their digital signals to provide additional programming, such as 24-hour local news or weather channels, alongside their main channels. Those additional channels may not be carried by cable or satellite providers but can be received using a DTV converter box.”

Dingell urged his colleagues in Congress to alert constituents about the DTV transition. “Congress established a coupon program to help offset the cost of acquiring a DTV converter box, which is expected to cost between $50 and $75. All households are now eligible to apply for and receive two $40 coupons, each of which may be used to purchase a converter box. If demand for converter box coupons exceeds 22.25 million, an additional 11.25 million coupons will be made available only to households that do not subscribe to a pay TV service,” he said.

Dingell is a legislator concerned that if the DTV transition does not go well, viewers will take it out on members of Congress. He is making his committee’s staff an outlet for DTV material. He said information about the DTV transition can be found at http://energycommerce.house.gov or by calling Amy Levine on his committee staff at 202-225-2927, Ext 6-2424.

He has scheduled another hearing for Feb. 13 to hear the progress or lack thereof on the DTV transition.