One-quarter of OTA households still haven’t applied for converter box coupons, says NTIA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration last week advised consumers who still haven’t requested DTV converter box coupons to do so by Dec. 31, or risk not receiving their coupons before the digital transition

Three-quarters of all U.S. households relying on over-the-air television reception have requested government coupons good for $40 towards the purchase of a DTV converter needed to continue using their analog televisions following the February 2009 digital transition, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said last week.

Agency figures, which are based on self-reporting, show 11 million of the 14.3 million over-the-air TV households Nielsen says exist have requested coupons — or 76 percent of all OTA TV households.

Acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Baker reminded those who need converter boxes but haven’t yet requested coupons to do so before the end of the year in a statement announcing the latest coupon tally. “I urge those who need the $40 coupons to apply before Dec. 31, buy a converter when the coupons arrive in the mail, and connect the converter to their television,” she said.

While the agency will make the coupons available to the public while supplies last until the February 2009 DTV transition, Baker has stressed that the public should make their coupon requests before the New Year to ensure the agency has enough time to process the applications and distribute the coupons, as well as to ensure that the public has enough time to install the boxes. Processing coupon applications may take up to six weeks, according to NTIA.

According to NTIA, 22 million households have requested more than 41 million coupons, and nearly 17 million coupons have been redeemed from the TV Converter Box Coupon Program to date.

On Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power broadcasters in the United States are required to transition to DTV transmission.

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