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NAB Urges NTIA To Explore Other Delivery Options For DTV Coupons

The Postal Service may historically prevail over rain, snow and gloomy nights, but time may do it in, at least where DTV-to-analog converter box subsidy coupons distributed by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration are concerned.

National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr has sent a letter to NTIA acting head Meredith Baker suggesting that it ask contractor IBM to look into alternative delivery mechanisms--Fed Ex or UPS, perhaps--as the days dwindle down to the DTV transition date of Feb. 17, 2009.

"We are concerned that the continued delivery of converter box coupons at the present rate may impede our progress nationally," he wrote. "With the February transition date now less than 85 days away, it is critical that the government focus on getting coupons to consumers who have applied as quickly as possible."

NTIA has said that viewers need to apply for the coupons by the end of the year to be able to buy and try them by the cut-off date, given the six-week turn-around time for requesting,

receiving and redeeming the coupons

, then hooking up the boxes.

NAB wants NTIA to shave some time off the delivery factor in that equation by encouraging IBM, which is handling the coupon program for NTIA, to expedite the process. "As you also know, the law does not require that any coupons be mailed via standard third-class U.S. Postal Service mail, as is the current practice by your contractor, IBM," said Rehr. "Accordingly, America’s broadcasters respectfully request that your agency and IBM do whatever necessary to ensure that all coupons be mailed in the most expeditious manner possible nationwide starting as soon as possible."

"We are always reviewing the program and ideas to determine effective approaches," said NTIA Communications Director Todd Sedmak.