NTIA: Converter Boxes Selling Like Hot Cakes

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Washington, D.C. – If you believe government/industry studies, all seems to be going well in DTV Transition-land.

Some interesting tidbits were recently released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the status of the much-debated DTV converter box coupon program.

As of June 11, 2008, some 3.2 million DTV converter box coupons have been redeemed out of the 15.4 mailed to date, the NTIA said.

In addition:

  • 8.9 million households have applied for DTV converter coupons.
  • A total of 16.7 million coupons have been requested (2 coupons per household).
  • A total of 802,873 coupons have expired.
  • A total of 11.3 million coupons remain active.
  • Average daily orders for coupons are 104,022.
  • 1.9 million retail locations are participating in coupon redemption.

At the same time, the NTIA pointed to a recent survey by the National Association of Broadcasters which concludes that “the vast majority of the American public is aware of the upcoming DTV transition.” Details are available at DTVanswers.

The survey said 90 percent of respondents reported being aware that broadcast television signals and programming will switch to a digital format on Feb. 17, 2009, up from 83 percent found in an NAB-commissioned survey in January 2008.

On June 19, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will offer a consumer education workshop focused on DTV converter boxes at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. This will involve a discussion about the boxes and their features, an installation demonstration, and converter box manufacturers and vendors on site to answer questions. See www.fcc.gov for details.

As for converter boxes: the NTIA said six new boxes were recently added to the list of boxes eligible for $40 coupons. This brings the total to 96, although many of are yet to be seen on retail shelves.

The NTIA said 41 certified converter boxes, of which eight can pass through analog signals, are now available in retail stores. That leaves 55 certified converter boxes, of which 17 can pass through analog signals, not yet available in stores. Each box costs around $40-$70.

For a detailed listing of eligible boxes, visit www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm

In fact, my own recent in-store investigations have revealed that a number of locations in the New York City area are running at low to out-of-stock inventory levels this week.

As for coupon eligible retailers, the NTIA said one new retailer joined the program in the past week, bringing the total to seven national chains, 22 online retailers, and 10 telephone retailers. For a complete listing or to search for local retailers, visit www.DTV2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA manages the TV converter box coupon program. Consumers can apply for coupons at www.DTV2009.gov or call the 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-888-388-2009 (1-888-DTV-2009).

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