Digital TV Transition – Converter Box Coupon Program

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,348
    Broadcastingcable.com discusses the digital TV transition, specifically the converter box coupon program.

    Joel Topcik: Hi, I am Joel Topcik from Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. We are talking about how you can prepare for the digital TV transition. As we have learned, if you want to continue to receive over-the-air broadcast on your older analog only TVs, you will need a Digital-to-Analog Converter box. Did you know that the Federal Government has a coupon program to help you purchase these converter boxes at a discount? In this final segment, you will learn all about that coupon program from Meredith Attwell Baker of the US Department of Commerce.

    Host: When can I apply for my digital converter box coupons?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: Well, you can apply now and we are going to be accepting applications for coupons up until March 31st, 2009.

    Host: How do I request a coupon?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: You can request these coupons through our website www.dtv2009.gov or by phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 or we are also accepting them by mail or by fax. You can just call us and we will send you an application.

    Host: Where else are coupon applications available?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: They are also available in libraries and we are working with communities to get them in other places so that it will be easy for the consumer to get the application. Certain retailers also have them available.

    Host: When will I receive my coupon?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: Generally speaking, about three weeks after you apply.

    Host: How many coupons can I request?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: Every United States household is eligible for up to two coupons worth $40 each towards the price of the converter box and the converter boxes are going to cost between $40 and $70. Now we have 22.25 million coupons to give out to every household in America and if we run through all of those coupons, then those households who receive over-the-air only broadcasts or going to be eligible for an additional 11.25 million coupons.

    Host: What information do I need to provide the Government to request my coupons?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: You are going to need to give us your name and your address and whether you want one or two coupons and you are also going to need to tell us whether you receive your television over-the-air.

    Host: Can I use my coupons to purchase any TV converter box?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: You can use your coupons to purchase coupon eligible boxes. When you send you your coupon you are going to get a list of eligible converter boxes that is going to be include with your coupon and they will also be labeled in the stores when you go to purchase them. The Congress gave us certain specifications to create a very simplified converter box that's going to be eligible for this program, but we wanted to make sure that they work. So we have tested them and we have make sure that they work and we have certified up to -- well, right now about 50 boxes that you can use your coupon towards and some of them are different than others. Some have permitted features such as a smart antenna or an enhanced programming guide, Energy Star Certification and some have a permitted feature called low power pass-through. So if you watch low power stations or translators or class A stations then you will need to get that permitted feature in the certified box.

    Host: How long are coupons active?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: Coupons are active for 90 days so when you receive your coupon, you have a chance to do some consumer comparison of the boxes to figure out which one you want or if you decide to make a transition in some other way such as buying a digital television or subscribing a cable or satellite or some other pay television service.

    Host: Can I replace a lost or stolen coupon?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: No, at this point you cannot replace a lost or stolen coupon, so when you receive it in the mail, you need to guard it and use it within 90 days because it's going to expire after 90 days.

    Host: Where can I redeem a coupon?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: There are over 9700 retail outlets where you can redeem your coupons and then places you would expect like BestBuy, RadioShack, Walmart and Circuit City as well as some online retailers.

    Host: Are the coupons transferable to others?

    Meredith Attwell Baker: Yes, these coupons are transferable. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for our consumers to make the transition for their loved ones and the ones they care about. Now we are going to be watching up for waste, fraud and abuse. So obviously you can order a bunch and remember that each household can only order two coupons. So if you order two coupons and you use one coupon for your friend then you cannot order any additional coupons.

    Joel Topcik: Well, there you have it. We hope this video has answered your questions about the digital TV transition and helped to prepare you for this important moment in television history. If you have more questions, don't hesitate to consult the sources presented in this video. For up to the minute news and analysis on the digital TV transition and the business of television please visit www.broadcastingcable.com and for 'How to' videos on almost any imaginable topic, you should visit monkeysee.com. I would like to thank Jonathan Collegio, Rob Stoddard, Jason Oxman, John Taylor and Meredith Attwell Baker for their participation in this video and on behalf of everyone at Broadcasting & Cable, thank you for watching.