There has been considerable debate as to whether or not the 1.5B allocated to the digital-to-analog converter box coupon program in enough. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) is among those concerned about the possibility of a shortfall, and is eying the nearly 19.6B pledged at auction for TV’s old 700 MHz spectrum as a source for more cash.
Nobody knows how many analog television sets will still be in use after the 2/17/09 DTV deadline passes, but the estimated total of analog 70M sets currently in use is about twice the number being covered by the coupon program. The biggest concern is for houses which receive their television program exclusively over the air on analog equipment. However, a secondary market is also of concern — the millions of second or third television sets in bedrooms, kitchens and other locations receiving off-air programming.
NAB Executive VP Dennis Wharton said that the broadcast organization "strongly supports" the Boucher program.
RBR/TVBR observation: The end of analog TV is now exactly 11 months away. Although many are confident that the current coupon allocation is sufficient, and they may well be correct. But wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to have Boucher’s cash cache sitting there in reserve, rather than find ourselves scrambling around at the last minute during either a) the final moments of what is likely to be yet another frenzied campaign season; b) the final moments of a lame duck president and Congress; or c) the chaotic month when the reins of power are handed from one administration to another for the first time in eight years? And what is the downside? If Boucher is wrong, then we can take the cached cash and apply it straight to the national debt or any other use that a majority of Congress can dream up.