NAB Asks FCC, Congress To Help Unclog Backlog Of DTV Coupon Requests

NAB President David Rehr offered four suggestions to address the situation

The National Association of Broadcasters has asked Congress and the FCC to do something to unclog the backlog of DTV-to-analog converter box coupon requests.

In a letter Wedesday that was also distributed to reporters, NAB President David Rehr suggested four options to address the

National Telecommunications & Information Administration's announcement Monday

that it may run up against its $1.34 billion funding cap and would have to start putting requests on a waiting list.

Rehr said they could:

Raise the redemption rate assumption, boost the funding, waive the expiration on the coupons (currently 90 days), or waive the Antideficiency Act requirement that NTIA not send out more coupons until money was freed up from coupons that went unredeemed.

Rehr pointed out that more coupons had been applied for than "anyone who designed the program would have expected." Meredith Baker, acting admnistrator of NTIA, conceded earlier this week that NTIA had projected spikes and lulls and had gotten, instead, spikes and more spikes as the transition date approached.

But she also pointed out that it was Congress that set the funding level.

"The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) urges Congress to address this issue, as millions of households are at risk of losing reception without the help of a coupon toward these converter boxes," Rehr said.

House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) is currently working on a bill that would waive the Antideficiency Act requirement. The bill could be introduced as early as Friday, said an aide, but more likely by early next week