Uncle Sam wants your television set to keep working, and the federal government has announced details of a subsidy program aimed at households with TVs at risk of going dark after the transition to all-digital broadcasting in 2009.
The Dept. of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Monday unveiled plans to offer all U.S. households a maximum of two coupons worth $40 each to be applied toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes. The boxes will allow over-the-air-dependent analog sets to continue to receive a picture after the February 2009 cutoff date for analog signal broadcasting.
Otherwise, those sets will only have “snow or a blue screen,” NTIA chief John Kneuer said.
Analog sets hooked to either cable or satellite systems will continue to work since cablers and satcasters will convert digital signals to analog for customers with analog sets.
In mandating the transition to digital, Congress earmarked $1.5 billion to help consumers buy converter boxes. The money is to be parceled out in two steps — an initial outlay of $990 million, followed by an additional $510 million if necessary.