U..S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today urged Americans who need help getting ready for the national switch to digital television (DTV) to apply for a converter box coupon no later than Monday, June 1, in order to receive it before the June 12 transition.
Consumers who have TVs connected to cable, satellite, or another pay TV service are ready for the transition to digital. If they don't prepare, consumers who rely on free, over-the-air TV and use "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna with a television that uses an analog tuner, will lose television service on June 12.
"Time is running out. Americans who rely on free television who aren't prepared for the transition should apply for a coupon today if they need help purchasing a converter box so they can continue receiving the television programming they count on," Locke said. "If you are ready for digital television, check with friends and family to make sure they are ready too.
In addition to offering consumers a clearer picture and more programming choices, the transition to digital will free up the airwaves for better communications among emergency first responders and offer advanced wireless services for consumers.
There are several options that consumers have to get ready for the transition including: subscribing to cable, satellite or another pay service; buying a television with a digital tuner; or purchasing a TV converter box.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $650 million to help unprepared Americans get ready for the transition from analog to digital television. The money has allowed the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to eliminate a waiting list for coupons. Eligible households can receive up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of certified converter boxes, which enable older televisions to continue working after the switch to digital broadcasting.
In addition, NTIA's TV Converter Box Coupon Program now processes and mails coupons in about nine business days. As a result, consumers who apply for coupons prior to June 1 are likely, though not guaranteed, to receive their coupons in advance of the June 12 transition date.
Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed and have the expiration date printed on them. Consumers may reapply for coupons only if their previously issued coupons expired without being redeemed.
Consumers can call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit www.DTV2009.gov  for more information or to request a coupon.