NTIA issues 2 million DTV converter box coupons in first week

Americans appear to be interested in preserving their NTSC television sets and receiving over-the-air signals following the conclusion of the DTV transition in February 2009.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) — the agency charged by Congress with the responsibility for administering the converter box coupon program — said at the 2008 International CES that more than 1 million households requested 2 million coupons in the first week of the program.

The government is subsidizing the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes with part of the proceeds from the sale of spectrum that will be freed up when TV broadcasters cease analog transmissions next year. Consumers may use the $40 coupons to purchase certified converter boxes for their analog televisions.

More than 250 retailers with 15,000 outlets have agreed to participate in the converter box program, according to the NTIA. To date, the agency has approved 19 converter box models for coupon eligibility, and more are being tested.