National Telecommunications and Information Administration
• Asst. Secretary
• Domestic Policy
• Telecom Research
Media & Press
Full-Power TV Stations to Cease Analog Broadcasts after Feb. 17, 2009
All U.S. Households Eligible to Apply For Up to Two, $40 Coupons Toward the Purchase of Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes Starting January 2008
For Immediate Release: March 12, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today the final rule for the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program (coupon program) designed to help consumers continue receiving free, over-the-air television when full-power television stations cease analog broadcasting after February 17, 2009, as authorized in the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (the Act). Digital television will provide consumers with a clearer picture, more programming and will free up much needed spectrum for advanced wireless broadband services and interoperable communications among emergency first responders.
"The transition from analog to digital television is a historic change and brings with it considerable benefits for the American consumer,” said Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez. “The coupon program is designed to help ease the transition to digital TV. Not only will the transition help expand consumer choices, but more importantly, the digital transition will enable more efficient use of the nation’s airwaves providing new advanced wireless services and increased public safety services for all Americans.”
Just last month, a Memorandum of Understanding between
the Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland
Security was signed to create and administer a $1 billion
Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program
to help state, local and federal first responders better
communicate during emergencies.
If the initial funds are used up, the Act permits funding to increase by $510 million, upon certification to Congress that the initial allocated amount is insufficient to fulfill coupon requests. If the additional funds are needed, eligibility for those coupons will be limited exclusively to over-the-air-only television households. Consumers requesting coupons from these contingent funds must self-certify to NTIA that they do not subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay television services. This program is structured to monitor demand to help ensure that over-the-air reliant households will not lose total access to television broadcasts after the Feb. 17, 2009, transition date.
“With the Coupon Program and a successful analog-to-digital transition involving the public, industry and government, the switch from analog to digital television will be completed as planned," said Assistant Secretary for Communication and Information John Kneuer.
Households using analog televisions will not be able to receive digital broadcasts after February 17, 2009, unless the analog television is connected to a box that converts the digital signal to an analog format, or the analog television is connected to cable or satellite service. While converters may be important to connect some TVs, other viewers may not need or want converters, such as those who have digital televisions or pay TV service.
The final rule is based on the Act and public comments to establish the national coupon program for digital converter boxes. The final rule sets forth the framework for the coupon program and provides guidance for consumers, television converter box manufacturers, and retailers regarding eligibility, responsibilities, and certifications. Specific actions in the final rule include:
“Besides our own consumer education efforts, NTIA
is working with partners such as broadcasters, consumer
electronics retailers, manufacturers, and consumer organizations
to reach out to those most in need of the coupon program,” said
Assistant Secretary Kneuer. “We welcome partners
and ask that interested parties contact our office at
202-482-6260 to learn how they can help inform the public
about the coupon program.”