â€œWASHINGTON–Americans who want a converter box permitting older televisions to receive digital broadcasts will be eligible for federal subsidies, according to new rules announced Monday that clear up some confusion about how the program will work.
As part of the lead-up to a scheduled February 2009 shutdown of over-the-air broadcasts in the United States, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) held a press conference here Monday to unveil its long-awaited final rules for a congressionally mandated subsidy program.
Under the rules, all U.S. households will be able to apply for up to two $40 coupons to defray the cost of a basic digital-to-analog converter box during the program’s initial phase, in which up to 22.5 million coupons are expected to be available. Beginning January 1, 2008, households will be able to make such requests through a toll-free phone number, a Web site, fax or postal mail. March 31, 2009 is the last day to make the requests. Boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70 apiece.
If that initial $890 million worth of coupons run out, NTIA has the power to ask Congress to hand over an additional $450 million, creating up to 11,250,000 more vouchers. Those coupons would be reserved, however, for households that self-certify that they rely solely on over-the-air broadcasts, as opposed to cable or satelliteâ€
Iâ€™ll bet they donâ€™t even make the February 19, 2009 scheduled shutdownâ€¦