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NTIA OKs 19 DTV-to-Analog Converter Boxes, 250-Plus Retailers

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration told a 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show audience in Las Vegas Monday that it certified 250 retailers, including QVC, and 19 digital-TV-to-analog converter boxes.

The NTIA Jan. 1 began handing out government-subidized $40 coupons toward the purchase of the boxes -- up to two per household -- and said Monday that it had already received more than 1 million requests for more about 2 million boxes.

QVC, the TV retailer, said it will provide a toll-free number for viewers who want to use the coupons toward the boxes.

Others certified included Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Sears, Roebuck and Wal-Mart.

The NTIA will begin mailing the coupons Feb. 17, one year out from the DTV-to-analog switch, but some viewers may want to wait depending on whether the anticipated $60 price point for the boxes comes down in the wake of EchoStar Communications' announcement Monday of a $39.99 box.

That box won't widely available until June. Unless someone steps up with a similarly priced box before that, the coupons of the earliest adopters could expire before the cheaper boxes hit most shelves.