NTIA Says Box Delivery On Schedule

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Acting National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) chief Meredith Atwell Baker is confident that digital-TV-to-analog converter-box manufacturers will have those boxes on the shelves by Feb. 18 (exactly one year before the DTV switch).

That's when the NTIA has said it will start issuing applications for coupons good toward the purchase of those boxes.

The NTIA last week had its first formal meeting with partners that will help administer the wide-ranging DTV-education effort.

Separately, National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr last week sent a letter to Best Buy and the heads of seven other major retailers urging them to make sure the converter boxes are on the shelves when they should be.

As of Jan. 23, Baker says 3.7 million coupons had been applied for.

Baker—flanked by banners in English and Spanish that read, "Will Your TV Work After February 17, 2009?"—says she did not think the FCC will need to require broadcasters to air public-service announcements about the transition, or cable operators to use bill stuffers to get the word out.

The campaign has phases: One, in April, will explain how digital TV will free spectrum for first responders and advanced wireless devices. Another part of the campaign will be to get houses of worship and community centers to encourage members to send in for the coupon.

The last phase, later in the fall, will be titled "Life Without Television," which will explain how consumers without converter boxes won't be able to receive a picture.