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Best Buy: Converter Boxes on Shelves in All Stores by Feb. 18

A spokesman for Best Buy said Friday that the chain would have digital-TV-to-analog converter boxes in all of its stores by Feb. 18.

That will be one year from the date when all full-power TV stations must be broadcasting in digital and all analog-only sets not hooked up to cable or satellite will need converters to display over-the-air signals.

"We will have the boxes in time for the first people who get their coupons," Best Buy spokesman Brian Lucas said, adding that the date would be either Feb. 17 or 18.

He said the stores -- 917 of them in 49 states -- are stocking only one box, its Insignia store brand, which will retail in the $50-$70 range.

The one state without a Best Buy is Wyoming, but the retailer is also setting up an 800 number to take coupon orders over the phone.

Lucas was commenting on a letter National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr sent to Best Buy and seven other top retailers advising them that they should have the boxes on the shelves when the coupons are received to make sure that nobody walks into a store and can't buy one.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said this week that it had been in close contact with the major retailers and was confident that they would all have the boxes by mid-February, when the NTIA plans to start processing and mailing the coupons.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.