The administration's digital-TV-to-analog converter-box-coupon program might run out of funds to process those coupons by the end of January unless Congress frees up more money. The cash could dry up 17 days short of the DTV-transition date and almost seven weeks short of the March 31 end date for applying for the coupons.
That shortfall could be a problem if there is an anticipated spike of coupon requests from procrastinators as the Feb. 17, 2009, date nears.
That timetable came from acting National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief Meredith Atwell Baker in a letter to Congress. "NTIA has placed orders with IBM to distribute up to 44.5 million coupons," Baker said in the letter. At the rate they're going and assuming the pace will quicken as the deadline approaches, the NTIA will run out of money without more funding.