DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

 

National Telecommunications and Information Administration 

 

47 C.F.R. 301

 

Docket Number: 0612242667-7051-01

 

RIN 0660-AA16

 

Rules to Implement and Administer
a Coupon Program for
Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes

 


I.
II.








III.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Background
Discussion
A. Eligible U.S. Households
B. Coupon Value and Use Restrictions
C. Application Process
D. Coupon Expiration
E. Coupon-Eligible Converter Box
F. Manufacturer Certification
G. Retailer Participation
H. Consumer Education
Procedural Matters


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AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Commerce   PART 301 Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program  
ACTION: Final Rule   Technical Appendices  


 


For the reasons set forth in the preamble, NTIA adds 47 C.F.R. Part 301, which is currently reserved, with the following:


PART 301 DIGITAL-TO-ANALOG CONVERTER BOX COUPON PROGRAM


301.1   Program Purposes

301.2   Definitions

301.3   Household Eligibility and Application Process

301.4   Coupons

301.5   Manufacturers’ Technical Approval Process

301.6   Retailer Participation

Technical Appendix 1

Technical Appendix 2


AUTHORITY: Title III of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 4, 21 (Feb. 8, 2006) (the “Act”).


§301.1 Program Purposes.


Pursuant to section 3005 of the Act, (The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005), the purpose of the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program is to provide $40 coupons that can be applied towards the purchase price of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. After February 17, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission will require that all full-power television stations in the United States broadcast using digital television technology. Consumers who wish to continue to receive local broadcast television programming over-the-air using analog televisions not connected to cable or satellite service may wish to purchase digital-to-analog converter boxes in order to do so.

 

§301.2 Definitions.


“Act” means Title III of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 4, 21 (Feb. 8, 2006).

“Agency” means the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the United States Department of Commerce or its contractor.

“Certified Retailer” means a seller of Coupon-Eligible Converter Boxes directly to consumers that has met the requirements for certification and has been identified by NTIA as certified to redeem coupons.

“Contingent Funds” means those funds referenced in Section 3005(c)(3) of the Act.

“Coupon” means a voucher provided by the Agency to Eligible Households which only may be used to purchase a Coupon-Eligible Converter Box from a Certified Retailer.

“Coupon-Eligible Converter Box” (CECB) 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 a television receiver designed to receive and display signals only in the analog television service. CECBs may also include remote control devices. CECBs must have the features required by, and meet the technical performance specifications listed in Technical Appendix 1.

“Department” means the United States Department of Commerce.

“Eligible Household” means those Households in the United States and its territories that make a valid request for a coupon pursuant to Rule 301.3 within the time period specified by NTIA, but no later than March 31, 2009.

“FCC” means the Federal Communications Commission.           

“State” includes each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“Household” consists of all persons who currently occupy a house, apartment, mobile home, group of rooms, or single room that is occupied as separate living quarters and has a separate U.S. Postal address. A household does not mean a Post Office Box.

 


§301.3 Household Eligibility and Application Process.


 (a) To apply for and receive a coupon, an Eligible Household must:

            (1) provide the name of the person submitting the request  

            (2) provide a United States Postal Service mailing address

                        (A)      a Post Office Box will not be considered a valid mailing address unless (2)(B) applies

                        (B)      residents of Indian reservations, Alaskan Native Villages and other rural areas without home postal delivery may be requested to supply additional information to identify the physical location of the household, as required.

            (3) indicate the number of coupons requested, but no more than two coupons.

(b) As of January 1, 2008, requests for coupons may be submitted by mail, telephone or the Internet on forms provided by the Agency.

(c) Requests for coupons must be submitted to the Agency no later than March 31, 2009.

(d) Once Contingent Funds are available for the Coupon Program, only over-the-air households will be eligible. During the period in which Contingent Funds are available, households must certify that they do not receive cable, satellite, or other pay televison service.

(e) If an applicant does not meet the above eligibility requirements, the request will be denied.



§301.4 Coupons


(a) The coupon value will be $40 or the price of the CECB, whichever is less.

(b) Each Eligible Household will be limited to a total of two coupons.

(c) Two coupons may not be used in combination toward the purchase of a single CECB.

(d) Coupons will be sent to Eligible Households via the United States Postal Service.

(e) Coupons will expire 90 days after the issuance date. Issuance date means the date upon which the coupon is placed with the United States Postal Service.

(f) Consumers may not return a CECB to a retailer for a cash refund for the coupon amount or make an exchange for another item unless it is another CECB.

(g) The coupon has no cash value. It shall be illegal to sell, duplicate or tamper with the coupon. 

 


§301.5 Manufacturers’ Technical Approval Process  


(a) Manufacturers wishing to participate in the coupon program must submit a Notice of Inquiry to NTIA at least three months prior to submitting test results and sample models of converter boxes. Notices should be sent to DTV Converter Coupon Program, NTIA/OTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 4809, Washington, DC 20230, Fax Number 202-482-4626 and provide the name, title, address, and phone number of an individual responsible for the manufacturer’s submission. The notice shall also include a brief description of the proposed converter box, including permitted as well as required features, and the date which the proposed converter box is expected to be available for testing.

(b) NTIA shall treat the notices of intent received as business confidential and proprietary information and will not release information from the notices of intent to the public unless otherwise required by law.

(c) The manufacturer will supply two production sample converter boxes to NTIA. NTIA will provide the manufacturer with mailing information in a letter of acknowledgment after NTIA receives the Notice of Inquiry.

(d) Each model proposed to be a CECB shall meet the performance specification and features set forth in Technical Appendix 1 of this Section. Each model proposed may also include “permitted” features set forth in Technical Appendix 2, but shall not include “disqualifying” features set forth therein.  

(e ) NTIA may issue other guidance or test-bed conditions and it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to conduct tests pursuant to any guidance so provided. A manufacturer shall conduct its own tests or have a qualified independent third party conduct the tests.

(f) Reports of test conditions and test results must be clear and comprehensive so that they can be easily interpreted by NTIA and others reviewing them. The FCC may test converter boxes, if requested by NTIA.

(g) Test results shall be submitted to NTIA along with a certification of the testing supervisor as to their authenticity, completeness and accuracy based on personal knowledge.  

(h) NTIA will provide prompt notice to the individual submitting test results whether the

 model has met technical approval and is or is not a CECB. NTIA will base its decision whether to approve each converter box upon consultation with the FCC.

(i) A list of CECBs, including make and model number, will be maintained by NTIA and regularly distributed to participating retailers for use in electronic Point-of-Sale (POS) systems.

(j) It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to resolve any performance or product defect issues with consumers and retailers.

(k) NTIA shall not warrant the performance, suitability, or usefulness of any CECB for any use.

 

§301.6 Retailer Participation

 

Retailer participation is voluntary. NTIA encourages retailers to participate in the Coupon Program and to cooperate with NTIA and its contractor in the administration of an effective and efficient program resulting in high customer satisfaction with a minimum of waste, fraud and abuse.

(a)       Retailer Obligations: Certified Retailers are required to redeem valid coupons toward the purchase of CECBs, and

            (1)       Must have systems in place that are capable of electronically processing coupons for redemption and payment, tracking each and every transaction, and generating reports that are easily auditable.

            (2)       Must train employees on the purpose and operation of the Coupon Program. NTIA or its contractor will provide training material.

            (3)      Will not be responsible for checking consumer or household eligibility but shall report to NTIA suspicious patterns of customer behavior.

            (4)      Use commercially reasonable methods to order and manage inventory to meet customer demand for CECBs.

            (5)       Must provide transaction reports based on NTIA’s requirements. Reports must be maintained by the retailer for at least one year. Business confidential and proprietary information shall not be disclosed to the public unless otherwise required by law.

(b)       Retailer Certification:

            (1)       Retailers seeking to participate in the Coupon Program must apply for certification by contacting NTIA between June 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008.

            (2)       Retailers must complete the form provided by the Agency which requires the retailers to self certify that they:

                        (A)      Have been engaged in the consumer electronics retail business for at least one year unless waived for good cause by NTIA. Good cause will be determined upon a showing by the retailer that participation would be in the best interest of the program. NTIA will issue a written determination as to whether a retailer has made a sufficient showing of good cause to waive this requirement;

(B)Have completed a Central Contractor Registration (www.ccr.gov);

                        (C)      Have in place systems or procedures that can be easily audited as well as systems that can provide adequate data to minimize fraud and abuse in retail redemption and government payment for coupons;

                        (D)      Agree to have coupon box sales audited at any time during the term of participation in the coupon program by the U.S. Government or an independent auditor at no expense to the retailer;

                        (E)      Will provide NTIA electronically with redemption information and payment receipts related to coupons used in the purchase of converter boxes, specifically tracking each serialized coupon by number with a corresponding CECB purchase; and

                        (F)       Agree only to accept coupons for, and receive payment resulting from authorized purchases made for CECBs.

            (3)       Retailer Certification may be revoked by NTIA if a Certified Retailer fails to comply with these regulations, with the terms of any agreement made between the Certified Retailer and NTIA, or for other actions inconsistent with the Coupon Program.

            (4)       NTIA will not revoke retailer certification for unintentional non-compliance or error.

            (5)       Retailers may contact NTIA for late application or dispute resolution for problems such as denial or revocation of certification. Such issues will be resolved on a case-by-case basis.


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