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DTV Coupon Waiting List Grows Again

DTV, It's Just Not Your Day
The DTV Countdown: Complete Coverage of the DTV Transition

As Capitol Hill works on legislative fixes, including possibly pushing back the DTV conversion deadline, the waiting list for DTV-to-analog converter-box coupons continues to grow, pushing two million requests.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which had to put coupon requests on a waiting list after it reached the congressionally-mandated ceiling on funds, says that there were 1,761,291 requests on that waiting list as of Sunday night. Between Jan. 9 and Jan. 11, 524,000 were added while only 134,814 were taken off the list.

Getting off that list requires coupons to expire (which they do after 90 days) and the money to be freed up for new ones. If that pattern continues, the list will have topped two million by midweek.

Legislators, and President-elect Barack Obama, are concerned that millions of viewers will not get their coupons in time to get the converter boxes by the Feb. 17, 2009 DTV transition date.

The boxes allow over-the-air viewers with analog sets to continue to get a TV station signal after the transition date. Minorities, seniors and rural citizens have higher percentages of over-the-air only viewers and will thus be disproportionately affected by the coupon distribution logjam.

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.