Washington — The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said Monday that due to depleted funds, it has begun placing new applicants for TV converter box coupons on a waiting list and coupons will be mailed on a first-come-first-served basis.
The NTIA said that funding for further coupon mailings will come as funds from expired coupons become available.
“Because of the high demand for coupons, the program reached its $1.34 billion ceiling, which consists of ordered and redeemed coupons,” the NTIA said in a statement today.
“Households need to consider all of their options and act now to be prepared for the Feb. 17 transition to digital television,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Attwell Baker. “We are working with Congress, the incoming administration and other stakeholders to ensure everyone is prepared for the transition and no one is left in the dark.”
Going forward, as consumers contact the Coupon Program they will hear a message that they have been placed on the waiting list until a coupon becomes available.
Consumers will receive a reference number that they should write down and use to check the status of their order at the Coupon Program’s Web site, the NTIA said.
According to the NTIA, more than 24 million households have requested more than 46 million coupons to date and more than 18 million coupons have been redeemed.
Consumers holding coupons should redeem them before the coupon expires within 90 days from the date it is mailed, the NTIA said. To date, 52.5 percent of coupons requested have been redeemed and more than 13 million coupons have expired.
With 43 days until the transition to digital television, 12.6 million households that rely on television with an antenna have requested coupons, based on consumers self-reporting, according to the NTIA. According to recent Nielsen estimates in January 2008, 14.3 million households rely on TV with an antenna.
More information on the DTV transition is available at www.dtvanswers.com.