NARUC: FCC Must Step In on DTV Converters

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners calls on FCC to ask Congress to force NTIA to modify DTV-to-analog converter-box-coupon program.

State regulators called on the government to step in to help people whose digital-TV-to-analog converter-box coupons expired.

In a resolution approved at its annual summer committee meetings in Portland, Ore., the board of directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners voted on the round-about strategy.

Rather than directing its resolution at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration itself, the group called on the Federal Communications Commission to ask Congress to force the NTIA to modify its converter box program.

Following is the text of the item: "The resolution asks the FCC to seek that Congress examine the NTIA’s implementation of the digital-to-analog converter-box-coupon program to require inventory data from certified retailers to assure use of reasonable methods to meet customer demand and extend the expiration date for the converter-box coupons or allow those whose coupons expire to reapply."

Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez (the NTIA is an arm of Commerce) signaled that the NTIA has no plans to extend the coupon deadline, despite calls from congressional Democrats. Gutierrez told C-SPAN in an interview last month that the coupon's current 90-day life span is "long enough to give consumers a chance to think about when they are going to buy and what they are going to buy, but it's short enough to force a decision.”

NARUC also called on the FCC to boost its DTV-transition-education efforts by posting a list of the features of all certified DTV-to-analog converter boxes and encouraging retailers to explain their exchange and return policies to consumers when they sell them the boxes.