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CE Retailers Praise Converter Box Subsidy Regs

Washington — The Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC), an industry association that addresses public policy issues affecting CE dealers, is applauding the final rule for a digital-to-analog converter box subsidy program issued earlier this week by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Under the NTIA’s Coupon-Eligible Converter Box plan (CECB), all U.S. households will be eligible to request up to two $40 coupons to be used toward the purchase of up to two converter boxes. The equipment will allow viewers with analog televisions to continue receiving TV broadcasts once full-power analog transmissions cease on Feb. 17, 2009. The program would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and coupons would be issued to qualified applicants until the $990 million in initial funding is exhausted.

CERC praised the NTIA for showing “close and constructive attention” to the input and concerns of its members and those of the DTV Coalition, an alliance of IT and telecommunications companies and trade groups promoting a successful transition to digital TV. CERC’s executive director Marc Pearl said the NTIA should next choose a program vendor “that will make additional choices of crucial concern to retailers who would like to participate.”

Pearl noted that in giving retailers until the end of the first quarter of 2008 to decide whether to seek certification in the CECB program, the NTIA recognized both the seasonal demands on dealers and “the importance of the implementation choices that must be made” by the program vendor. He also pledged CERC’s continued cooperation as a member of the DTV Coalition in making this and other elements of the digital TV transition a success.

“CERC looks forward to continuing to work with NTIA, the Federal Communications Commission and other members of the DTV Coalition to stay on track toward a transition that serves the public interest as the Congress intended,” he said.

CERC’s membership includes such major CE retailers as, Best Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart, and leading retail industry trade associations including NARDA, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Leaders Industry Association (RILA).