Or does it? It is now possible to go to the NTIA website, ntia.doc.gov, and find out everything you need to know about getting your coupon for a shiny new digital-to-analog converter box for your old-fashioned, MVPD-free television set, on the off-chance you can find one at your local retail electronics outlet. The 40 dollar head start on procuring one of the devices, currently expected to sell for between 50-70 bucks a pop, is available to any citizen with a television or two pulling signals off-air with rabbit ears or other such antennae. The coupon program is accessible from site dtv2009.gov, or by calling 1-888-388-2009.
However, TVBR readers have expressed difficulty getting the system to work. As of the late morning of 1/2/08, TVBR was not able to load the coupon website, nor was it able to get the NTIA communications department on the phone. (The 1-888 number seems to be working, but since we do not want a converter box we could only follow that path so far.)
TVBR observation: Seemingly not an auspicious start for this 1.5B program, but if there are going to be bugs to work out, now’s the time, since hardly any of the people who will need a converter box seem to know that they need one. The key, it seems to us, is for DTV educational messages to become an unavoidable feature of any set tuned to any program service (like soft drinks, dish detergent and other high-profile retail commodities), and for the boxes themselves to be prominently displayed where these needy-but-don’t-know-it citizens shop. By then, we would hope that all bugs that seem to be infesting the system are exterminated. Stay tuned – and we know you’ll be able to, since TVBR is not offered on an analog basis to begin with.