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RadioShack Wants to be the Technology Place for Off-Air Converters

As manufacturers of off-air digital-to-analog converter boxes are busy negotiating with big-box retailers for carriage of the products, RadioShack has spotted a marketing opportunity.

Sept. 25, the company announced its intention to participate fully in the government’s program of nearly $1.5 billion in $40 coupons for the boxes, which are expected to cost about $60 to $80 without the coupon.

Larry Harris, the company’s vice president of merchandising, told attendees at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration DTV Expo in Washington that his was the company with well informed workers who will spend 20 minutes helping a customer find a $1.99 plug.

“We’re the technology place, we’re your neighborhood store, and we demystify technology,” Harris said, alluding to the company’s advertising slogans. “We think the box really does hit our sweet spot.”

Among the commitments to the cause: Calls to a national RadioShack number on the issue will be sent to personnel in stores near the callers, who will be able to tell if the converter boxes are in stock.

Harris said details still needed to be worked out, such as the coupon program’s integration with the company’s point-of-sale technology. Also, so far boxes from only one manufacturer have been certified by NTIA as eligible for the coupon program.

Customers will be able to order coupons Jan. 1.

Harris said the commitment applied to about 4,400 company-owned stores, with most of the 1,600 or so franchisee-owned stores expected to join in.

(Read more about the over-the-air converter boxes in the Oct. 17 edition of TV Technology.