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DTV Coupon Program Out of Money 591

Posted by timothy
from the time-to-nelson-laugh-at-the-government dept.
Thelasko writes "It appears that the US Government's digital converter box program is running out of money. If you sign up after the program runs out of money, you will receive your voucher if the program receives more funding. Older analog televisions will no longer work without a converter box after February 17."
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DTV Coupon Program Out of Money

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  • Remember.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by acrobg (1175095) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @12:52PM (#26344051) Journal
    You only need a converter box if you get your television via over-the-air broadcast and don't have a digital tuner built in. If you get your television via cable (with a cable box or no), satellite, FiOS, U-Verse, etc., you don't need a dtv converter box. On Feb. 17, nothing will change for you. If you get OTA broadcasts, and you're unsure if your television needs a box, if you have the ability to type in a hyphen or decimal point in the channel number on your TV, you hava digital tuner. Fo example, in the Los Angeles area market, if you can type in 11.1 (11-1), you will get Fox in both digital and HD via OTA broadcast. Your best bet if your'e unsure, however, is to look up if your TV has a digital tuner online on the equipment manufacturer's website.
  • "Older analog televisions will no longer work without a converter box after February 17."

    They will work fine for Cable TV, and as monitors for video games, DVD's, VCR's etc. The only thing that happens on 2009-02-17 is that the local broadcasters will stop providing an analogue signal for these sets to pick up via antenna.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Deag (250823)

      Does anyone know do these converter boxes work for cable operators who don't provide an analog signal, specifically verizon fios?

  • by Ollabelle (980205) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @12:53PM (#26344071)
    This summer, Congress will conduct hearings on the massive waste and fraud in the program surrounding scores of bogus vendors each selling tens of thousands of fictitious boxes, all with "valid" coupons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      This summer, Congress will conduct hearings on the massive waste and fraud in the program surrounding scores of bogus vendors each selling tens of thousands of fictitious boxes, all with "valid" coupons.

      Actually, after the program went live, the agency in charge did kick out a bunch of vendors for fraud.

      So I'm pretty sure they got that problem sorted out months and months ago, as I heard them discussing it during a congressional hearing broadcast on CSPAN over the summer (2008). The congressmen on the sub-committee seemed inclined to give them more money for the program if asked.

      The coupon people's biggest worry was that lots of people would put it off to the very last minute or would wait till the deadlin

  • Clarification (Score:2, Redundant)

    by UnknowingFool (672806)
    Older analog televisions will no longer receive over the air transmissions without a converter box after February 17. If you have analog cable, it will continue to work as long as the cable companies use analog.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:00PM (#26344183)

    So the FCC made around 20 billion dollars auctioning off the spectrum [slashdot.org], but only allocated 1.3 billion for the coupon program? At $40 /coupon, that's around 32 million coupons. I'm guessing there's more non-cable televisions than that. Something seems quite a bit wrong with the amount allocated.

  • by Ambiguous Coward (205751) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:03PM (#26344221) Homepage

    So...is there a way I can *return* my voucher? I ordered one, thinking I was going to use it for my old tv, but then I went out and actually bought a nice new tv for which I don't need the converter box. I'm sure only a precious few people would actually bother to return the voucher once they discover they aren't going to use it, but it seems there ought to be a mechanism in place. I don't want to tie up this money indefinitely, even if it is just a drop in the bucket.

    -G

    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:14PM (#26344437) Homepage

      The vouchers automatically expire after 90 days. I recall some doom and gloom about this program running out of money some time ago, based on the rate at which vouchers were being issued. Lots of people ordered them immediately, not realizing the expiration date, and discovered there wasn't much hardware you could spend them on yet. But since many of them weren't used that allocated money went back into the available pool again, just like your voucher will after it expires.

      The main thing that's different now is that vouchers ordered recently won't expire before the DTV transition, so if the program runs out of money now there won't be a chance to recycle recently issued but unused vouchers until after the deadline.

    • by kevmatic (1133523)
      If you RTFA, you'll see that the coupon will expire in 90 days. I don't know if you can turn it in before that or not. You better believe the government would find a way to spend it anyway.
    • by jjhall (555562)

      I requested coupons for a couple of older TVs, but never received them. I inquired but they said they were sent out and there is nothing further they could do, and suggested getting an unused card from a friend or relative who had to many. Perhaps a trading site could be set up to match people who have extras with people who didn't get any for whatever reason?

      If you have nothing better to do with it, I could send you a stamp to send it my direction. ;-)

      Jeremy

    • by athakur999 (44340)

      Every coupon that was issued has an expiration date on it. If the money does run dry and the government doesn't secure additional funding, what will happen is any new requests will go on a waiting list. As old coupons expire, they will send out new coupons to the people on the list.

  • For what it's worth, this is what the site reports when you try to sign up.

    We have determined that your household is eligible to participate in this program. However, at this time program funding is not currently available to fulfill your request. Your application has been placed on a waiting list. You do not need to apply again. When and if funds become available, coupon requests will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • by psnyder (1326089) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:13PM (#26344405)
    or people will start to read books.
  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:13PM (#26344413)
    If the converter box coupons help keep perfectly good CRT TVs out of the wastestream it sounds like money well spent.
    (Relevent report on that from 60 Minutes [cbsnews.com])
  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:13PM (#26344425) Homepage Journal

    The bad part about digital TV is the method of transmission they used is inferior in some ways to analog TV. It requires a very strong signal to get any video at all, and it's very suspectible to multipath interference. Analog TV would degrade gracefully, so that if you didn't get a strong signal you could at least hear it, and see black and white video. Digital TV is all-or-none. Also, portable TV antennas no longer work (at least, not while you're moving), so you can't stick one in your car or your Sony Watchman. Digital broadcast TV is a pain at this point...

  • Quinky dink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cjjjer (530715) <<cjjjer> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @01:19PM (#26344531)
    I wonder if this has anything to do with it?
    Scammers Exploit DTV Coupon Program [slashdot.org]
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @02:04PM (#26345361)

    The truth of DTV is that it's an excuse to force most of the population to cough up $500-$900 in a short period of time. It creates an artificial demand spike so that a select few corporations can profit from mass-exploitation. The fact that the vouchers are running out just confirms that people don't care about the Great New Wonderful High Definition Quality Orgasmic Display Technology Of Much Goodness BUY IT NOW. And why did it run out of money? Because they told the FCC that everyone wanted new TVs... I mean, who'd want to be saddled with last year's technology, right? Well, that would be us poor mother frackers who don't care to spend that much money for some passive display tech when we could just as easily go and buy a laptop and watch videos on THAT instead. And, big surprise, what's the major advertising point right now on a lot of laptops? Multimedia and a DVD drive. Go. Figure.

    I hope television dies right here and now and consumers start downloading massive quantities of video online, choking the crap out of our ISPs and prompting a digital crisis as the commercial infrastructure of the internet burns. Those same corporate interests then will be scrambling to explain to congressional oversight committees why everything went to hell. And the beautiful part is that by strangling the internet, it'll force companies to compete for a limited resource -- they won't be able to ally themselves against consumer interest anymore.

    The digital transition means less for television than it does for the future of the internet. Interesting, isn't it? Maybe they'll make a song about it -- "Internet Killed the TV Star?"

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:23PM (#26346805)

    With a $40 government subsidy, the cost of converter boxes was guaranteed NOT to drop below $40. If you make the boxes, why leave that sweet government money on the table?

    Now that the program money has dried up, maybe we'll actually see $10 or $20 boxes.

    We may actually see converter boxes with more features as well. To qualify for the coupon, the boxes had to fall within a minimum/maximum spec set by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. If you made a box with too many features, then your box was not eligible for the coupon.

    -ted

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