DTV Conversion, Another $650 Million Later

It’s not a coupon. It’s a plastic debit card, with a security hologram.  Just little personal piece of $650 million in the stimulus bill.

From the Wall Street Journal, “Converter Shortage May Hamper Digital-TV Switch“:

Congress set aside $650 million in the economic stimulus bill to pay for more coupons and earlier this week, the government said it has cleared its backlog of 4.2 million requests and those consumers should receive coupons by next week. Consumers who didn’t use the coupons before they expired can now apply for replacement coupons, federal officials say.

Pero, “Los cupones no pueden ser reemplazados.” Says so right on the sheet.

We belong to the subset of consumers who used analog TVs without cable or satellite, but upon hitting the first conversion date, just decided to buy a digital broadcast TV. So it’s “Rockford Files” every night at 10.

What do with the coupon? Package it with White House Easter egg roll tickets in an E-bay deal? (the Easter egg event is turning into a big mess.)

Nope. No sales. Verboten. You have to buy the converter box and THEN sell it.

The House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet held a hearing yesterday entitled, “Oversight of the Digital Television Transition.” Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association, led his prepared statement by offering this assessment:

There are three main points that I wish to make before this DTV transition oversight hearing. First, the DTV transition has been and will continue to be perhaps the most successful partnership of any kind between government and industry in our nation’s history. Second, as the experience of February 17th demonstrates, consumer experience with the DTV transition looks much more like Y2K than Hurricane Katrina. With our most recent survey of the market, we see ample evidnece to suggest that manufacturers and retailers will continue to meet consumer demand for converter boxes and antennas. Finally, in light of the program’s success and the enormous benefits arising from broadcasters’ migration to digital spectrum, Congress must not again delay the transition beyond June 12th.

The most successful partnership? Well, WWII’s arsenal of democracy might slip into first place on that list. Or the 19th century’s expansion of the railroads. Or the vast extension of Americans’ lifespan in the 20th century.

But as far as no more delays, RIGHT!


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