[opendtv] Re: Mews: TV are viewers unprepared for switch, coupons are running short

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 19:59:06 -0400

At 6:36 PM -0400 6/17/08, Adam Goldberg wrote:
Uh huh.  But you must certainly understand why there's expiration dates (and
why they aren't Feb 17, '09).  The NTIA was only given a certain amount of
money.  There will be a certain number of people who requests coupons but
don't use them all (for whatever reason).  It's important to be able to
'recover' that money, to send coupons to others who will use them.  If they
all had long expiration dates, there would be appropriated, unspent money
which could have helped someone who asked for coupons late.

Perhaps the best place to look is the legislation that created this program. I have been told that the legislation prohibited the inclusion of an analog tuner. So I looked for the actual text and this appears to be the final version:


(a) Creation of Program- The Assistant Secretary shall--

(1) implement and administer a program through which households in the United States may obtain coupons that can be applied toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes; and

(2) make payments of not to exceed $990,000,000, in the aggregate, through fiscal year 2009 to carry out that program from the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund established under section 309(j)(8)(E) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)(8)(E)).

(b) Credit- The Assistant Secretary may borrow from the Treasury beginning on October 1, 2006, such sums as may be necessary, but not to exceed $1,500,000,000, to implement this section. The Assistant Secretary shall reimburse the Treasury, without interest, as funds are deposited into the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund.

(c) Program Specifications-

        (1) LIMITATIONS-

(A) TWO-PER-HOUSEHOLD MAXIMUM- A household may obtain coupons by making a request as required by the regulations under this section between January 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, inclusive. The Assistant Secretary shall ensure that each requesting household receives, via the United States Postal Service, no more than two coupons.

(B) NO COMBINATIONS OF COUPONS- Two coupons may not be used in combination toward the purchase of a single digital-to-analog converter box.

                (C) DURATION- All coupons shall expire 3 months after issuance.

(2) DISTRIBUTION OF COUPONS- The Assistant Secretary shall expend not more than $100,000,000 on administrative expenses and shall ensure that the sum of--

(A) all administrative expenses for the program, including not more than $5,000,000 for consumer education concerning the digital television transition and the availability of the digital-to-analog converter box program; and

(B) the total maximum value of all the coupons redeemed, and issued but not expired, does not exceed $990,000,000.

(3) USE OF ADDITIONAL AMOUNT- If the Assistant Secretary transmits to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a statement certifying that the sum permitted to be expended under paragraph (2) will be insufficient to fulfill the requests for coupons from eligible households--

                (A) paragraph (2) shall be applied--

(i) by substituting `$160,000,000' for `$100,000,000'; and

(ii) by substituting `$1,500,000,000' for `$990,000,000';

(B) subsection (a)(2) shall be applied by substituting `$1,500,000,000' for `$990,000,000'; and

(C) the additional amount permitted to be expended shall be available 60 days after the Assistant Secretary sends such statement.

        (4) COUPON VALUE- The value of each coupon shall be $40.

(d) Definition of Digital-to-Analog Converter Box- For purposes of this section, the term `digital-to-analog converter box' means a stand-alone device that does not contain features or functions except those necessary to enable a consumer to convert any channel broadcast in the digital television service into a format that the consumer can display on television receivers designed to receive and display signals only in the analog television service, but may also include a remote control device.

So, the 90 day expiration for coupons is mandated in the legislation.

Section d has been interpreted by the NTIA to mean that an analog tuner cannot be included since this function is not "necessary to enable a consumer to convert any channel broadcast in the digital television service..."

So it looks like Congress forgot about LPTV, and tied the hands of the NTIA to do anything about it.

I am amazed that it took only a few paragraphs for Congress to authorize this $1.5 Billion program.


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