The Consumers Union says that the fact that the NTIA digital-to-analog converter box program has run into a wall means that the 2/17/09 DTV transition needs to be postponed until new arrangements are made. According to reports, influential House member Ed Markey (D-MA) is considering the idea.
The NTIA has its $1.34M ceiling committed to converter boxes, but only a bit over half of that has actually been spent by consumers. However, NTIA must honor the fact that the outstanding coupons may be turned in.
NAB President/.CEO David Rehr offered suggestions amounting to a four-point program to quickly solve the problem. His first point is to assume an 80% redemption rate, rather than a 100% rate, immediately freeing up what is in fact at this point theoretical cash; Second, he suggested Congress quickly authorize more funding for the program; Third, the expiration date on unused coupons could be waived; and fourth, lift anti-deficiency requirements, which force applied-for-but-unused coupons which may never be used to count as spent money, thus, as with suggestion one, instantly creating cash for the program.
RBR/TVBR observation: All four of NAB’s suggestions make sense. Delaying the transition date makes no sense whatsoever. The simple fact is this: No matter when the deed is done, there will be a significant number of somnambulant consumers who miss it. No matter when the deed is done, there will be a certain amount of pain. We almost never use all caps to make a point, but we will do so now: Congress must IMMEDIATELY do what it can to plug what holes are possible to plug, toward a 2/17/09 transition date.