Skip to main content

NTIA to Waive Coupon Requirements for Group Homes, P.O. Boxes

As expected, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration proposed waiving its digital-TV-to-analog converter-box-coupon requirements to allow nursing-home residents and those with Post Office boxes to apply for the coupons.

That came in a notice of proposed rulemaking that was published Thursday in the Federal Register.

The NTIA used a definition of qualifying household that did not include either nursing homes or those with P.O. boxes, which raised questions on Capitol Hill about how some seniors and rural viewers -- two of the populations most affected by the DTV switch -- were going to get boxes.

Meredith Attwell Baker, acting head of the NTIA, told a Senate Commerce Committee hearing April 8 that her agency was working on a proposed rulemaking that would allow viewers with P.O. boxes as their mailing addresses to qualify for the coupons, as well as those living in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.

The NTIA used the Census Bureau definition for qualified households, but that excluded P.O. boxes and group homes.

The proposed change was supplied to senators Tuesday, many of whom, like ranking Republican Ted Stevens (Alaska), are from states with hefty rural populations that use P.O. boxes.

The NTIA is supplying $40 coupons, up to two per household, which will allow analog TVs receiving signals over their air to continue to receive full-power TV-station signals when those switch over to digital in February 2009.