NAB's Rehr Asks Retailers to Ensure that Converter Boxes Are on Shelves

Feb. 17 Marks Exactly One Year Before DTV Conversion 1/24/2008 09:52:00 AM Eastern

National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr wrote the CEO of Best Buy and the heads of seven other major retailers asking them to make sure that digital-TV-to-analog converter boxes are on the shelves by February, when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has said that it plans to start processing applications for government-subsidized $40 coupons toward the purchase of those boxes.

Best Buy

The coupons expire within 90 days of issuance, which adds further impetus to the request.

The NTIA said Thursday that it has been in close contact with manufacturers and remains confident that the boxes -- about the size of a cable modem and costing anywhere between $40 and $70 -- will be on the shelves by then, adding that it would not start issuing the coupons until the boxes were widely available.

In his letter to Best Buy CEO Bradbury Anderson, dated Feb. 17, Rehr said that since the company had taken a leadership role in DTV consumer education, it should match that leadership in getting boxes to the stores. "Given the heightened awareness of the coming transition," he wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by B&C, "it is our hope that no consumer walks into a Best Buy store, coupon in hand, without being able to purchase a coupon-eligible converter box. That scenario could cause great consumer confusion and consternation."

Rehr said the NAB was ready to give a public shout-out to any retailer that commits to having coupon-eligible boxes on the shelves by February, adding, "We want your company to be one of those we laud."

Letters also went to Circuit City Stores, Sears, Roebuck, KMart, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Target and RadioShack.

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