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Locke: Coupons Still Available

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke put out a statement Monday assuring viewers that there were stil converter box coupons available.

Actually, there are plenty of them.

"We made tremendous gains in the last four months in preparing Americans for the transition to digital broadcasting," said Locke, "but our work is not done." "We will continue to inform unprepared Americans that $40 coupons for TV converter boxes are still available so they have access to the news and emergency broadcast information they need."

Consumers have until July 31 to apply for the boxes.

While Congress appropriate $650 billion more than the original $1.34 billion for the boxes, NTIA has yet to dip into that extra funding for coupons, despite a rush of orders last week (1.7 million), including 428,000 on Friday, June 12, alone. More than a million converter boxes were purchased last week, said NTIA.

So far 30.9 million coupons have been redeemed at $40 apiece, according to NTIA, which means NTIA has spent $1.2 billion on them so far, with another 6 million still active but unredeemed.

The FCC is encouraging converter box users who still may be having trouble receiving a digital channel to double-scan, which means clear out the converter box's memory by unplugging the antenna, rescanning it without the antenna attached, which clears out the memory, unplugging the box, then plugging it back in and re-scanning.

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.