DTV converter coupon program applicants now going to waiting list

By Diane Walker - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The money scrapped program is bad news at a bad economic time and, it may be blamed on poor planning. The government was suppose to foot the bulk of the bill making the transition to digital, smooth and as worry free, as possible by issuing forty dollar coupons to consumers who need converter boxes to continue watching TV, after February 17. Instead, the Commerce Department has set-up a waiting list which started forming Sunday.

The waiting list already has more than 100-thousand requests for coupons.  The government website clearly states the dilemna: the coupon program has reached its funding limit.

Because there's nothing left of the 1.34 billion dollars Congress allotted to help people purchase DTV, converter boxes .The Commerce Department will send out coupons to people on the waiting list only as already issued, unredeemed coupons expire, to free up more money.

Apparently the need was underestimated. More people applied for the coupons, than the program could cover under its budget. So, if you are just now requesting coupons, you will not get them before February 17. They provided two, forty dollar coupons per household to consumers requesting them. It's unclear when or if Congress will find emergency funding.

When the big switch happens midnight, February 17, a few weeks from now, your TV will either have a picture .. or it won't. Anyone who receives programming over the air, with rabbit ears, will need a Digital Converter Box and an antenna. You don't need to do anything if your TV is connected to cable or satelite -- or, if you have a newer TV with a digital tuner. You will continue to see your favorite shows, when TV stations, nationwide, shut off analogue and shift to a digital only broadcast, next month.

Many consumers, not planning to -- or unable to pay the full price may have to buy the converter boxes without the coupons.

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