The National Telecommunications & Information Administration wants Congress to raise the $1.34 billion cap on funds for the DTV-to-analog converter-box coupon program. The NTIA's concern is that coupon distribution could be slowed or halted next month.
A source with the agency confirms talks with Congress about raising what they see as an artificial cap.
NTIA is charged with giving out $40 coupons, up to two per household, to help viewers pay for the boxes.
A little over $1.1 billion has been obligated to the coupons. At the current rate, the cap amount would all be gone by mid-January.
It isn't that NTIA thinks it will run out of money, it's that the redemption rate is only a little over 50%, meaning half the coupons go unredeemed. But requests have spiked lately and could theoretically soar as Feb. 17 approaches. Two weeks ago, requests were coming in at the rate of 200,000 per day.