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January 7, 2008

DTV Coupons: The Consumer Catch-22

Filed under: Electronics — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:03 am

For the next year, you will hear repeated public service messages about analog television service being elminated on February 17, 2009. It will be replaced by digital TV service (DTV), and all TV stations will only broadcast in digital format. The problem: what if you only have an old-fashioned TV?   Will it go black a year from now?

Easy answer: it might if you get your signal using rabbit ears or an old-fashioned antenna. The solution: get a digital converter box that will take the new digital signals and convert them back to analog. To help with the expense of buying these boxes, Uncle Sam has set up a coupon program to offer each household up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of digital TV converter boxes.

*MOUSE PRINT:  Some key facts are buried in the fine print or not well disclosed, including:

1. You cannot combine the coupons toward the purchase of a single box (each will cost between $50 and $70 approximately).

2. The coupons expire 90 days from their mailing to you, and expired coupons will not be replaced.

3. There are only 22.5 million coupons unless Congress authorizes 11.25 million more.

4. While some boxes have already been approved, more are expected.

5. Many if not most retailers do not have the boxes in stock yet.

Translation:  The consumer has a dilemna. The coupons are available now, but the boxes are not. If you order your coupons now, the 90 day clock will begin to run on them when mailed, but you will likely have fewer choices of boxes and brands. If you wait for a better choice of boxes, all the coupons might be gone. And, initially, boxes are not likely to be on sale. Later in the year competition will likely be more stiff, and prices may drop low enough for the coupon to cover nearly the full cost.

Ideally, the coupons should have had no expiration, so the sharp consumer could order them now, but have time to choose more wisely from a fuller selection of converter boxes when they become available.

The trick is to get a coupon as late in the program as possible without the supply having already been exhausted. No easy task.

For more information on the details of the coupon program, including an application form, visit DTV2009.gov .

• • •

65 Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure the clock doesn’t start ticking on these until the coupon cards are actually sent, which will be in February or March, according to the government sites I’ve been reading. The count-down on the 90-day buying period starts when the the card is ISSUED, and the cards will not be issued until the converters are available in stores. (Thankfully.)

    According to your linked site (in the FAQ section):

    How long are coupons active?
    Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed. Each coupon has an expiration date printed on it.

    When will I get my coupons?
    Consumers who apply at the beginning or 2008 will receive their coupons when TV converter boxes are expected to be available in retail stores, probably in late February or early March.

    Comment by jesusita — January 7, 2008 @ 7:57 am
  2. I’ve already ordered my coupons and was quite annoyed by the 90 day expiration date for exactly the reasons you state. None of the news stories I read about the coupons mentioned the expiration date and unfortunately when you go to the website they don’t inform you of the 90 day expiration until after you have filled out and submitted your coupon. What makes this particularly annoying is one has to wonder why there is an expiration date at all and if there is a good reason for one why can’t there be a longer grace period. It’s always a toss up with our government these days as to whether something like this is due to a conspiracy or just plain incompetence, but I suspect they don’t really want people to be able to use these coupons.

    Comment by jim — January 7, 2008 @ 10:06 am
  3. I ordered the coupon and after I got done giving the woman my information I said to her: “They are probably using this information for another purpose.” She said, “I don’t know anything about it.” And I said: “I’m sure you dont.”

    Comment by fran kaye — January 7, 2008 @ 10:47 am
  4. You can order 2 coupons. Order one now and one later?

    Comment by Kat — January 7, 2008 @ 4:54 pm
  5. I’m going to order a coupon and not use it to expose the idiocy of this coupon program. Or I will sell it on eBay.

    Comment by Chris Farley — January 7, 2008 @ 5:15 pm
  6. I read the mouse print on the website and as I understand it, the coupons will not be sent until the boxes are available sometime in February or March and that is when the 90 day clock starts ticking.

    Comment by Larry Strong — January 8, 2008 @ 4:01 am
  7. My mother has a Really Old TV that only has the old style antenna connections – wires are screwed into place. There are no cable type connections at all. Do the converter boxes work with this type of TV or will we have to buy her a new one?

    Why is there an expiration date at all??? And although I get the idea, it is strange to think that the government is handing out money so we, the people, can watch TV. Opiate for the masses?

    Edgar replies: There will be a way to connect to sets with only rabbit ears is my understanding. And the reason given for the coupon expiration is that at most they only have 33 million to give out — not enough for every household. So they want to put back into the pool any coupons that are requested but unused, so others can request them.

    Comment by Nancy — January 8, 2008 @ 5:38 pm
  8. I spoke with a rep from the DTV web site who advised the coupons will not be mailed until the converter boxes are available in stores. That way, the clock doesn’t start ticking once you order the coupons.

    Comment by GIna — January 8, 2008 @ 9:35 pm
  9. Government subsidizing TV now, great that’s what I want my tax dollars spent on. I plan to order my two and toss them in the trash so nobody else gets them, after all I am entitled to them since I helped pay for them. We have HD Tv’s so they are of no use to us. More government luinacy! Lord help us if the government thinks this is worth funding, 1.3 billion down the drain.

    Comment by Tom S — January 9, 2008 @ 10:49 am
  10. in response to the comment by ‘Tom S’.

    this is not really about ‘Government subsidizing TV’. this is about accelerating the analog to digital transition so the freed up radio spectrum can be used for other purposes such as police and fire.

    Comment by parkay — January 9, 2008 @ 2:06 pm
  11. More likely, so they can auction off the excess space for other endeavours. By providing these coupons the government IS subsidizing this to the tune of 1.3 BILLION dollars. And exactly how does said gevernment get their money? By working hard and earning it? Nope, they TAKE it from hard working Americams like me, one third of my pay last time I calculated it. If you honestly believe they are doing this “for the better good” then there is little hope for our country.

    Comment by Tom S — January 9, 2008 @ 2:33 pm
  12. in response to Parkay:

    The freed up spectrum will be used by the cell companies to sell us more services (that we probably don’t need anyway).

    To Nancy:
    You can buy a small adapter to change from the coax cable to the screw terminals. They are less than $5 at just about any store, Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc.

    Comment by blasher — January 9, 2008 @ 3:33 pm
  13. Who is really going to NEED to purchase one of these magic boxes? I already get my tv programming through an all digital signal with my service provider and it works just fine on all my tvs. I don’t see what all the hub-bub is about.

    Comment by shawn — January 9, 2008 @ 5:23 pm
  14. according to this article

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080101/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/digital_tv

    “On Jan. 24, the FCC will auction off the spectrum currently used for analog television. That portion of the airwaves will be sold to wireless providers and is expected to bring in as much as $15 billion. A portion of the spectrum will also be dedicated for use by emergency responders.”

    so it looks like the government is spending $1.3b to make $15b.

    Comment by parkay — January 9, 2008 @ 5:58 pm
  15. shawn, the hub-bub is the 14.3 million households that still use over-the-air television.

    Comment by parkay — January 9, 2008 @ 6:03 pm
  16. I am still confused on whether or not my TV’s are analog. I have one HD TV
    which I know will not need the converter box. I have a small flat screen I bought
    2 yrs ago, and I have 2 other TV’s that are cable ready…no antenna’s. Do I need the
    converter box?

    Edgar replies: Pam, don’t drive yourself crazy. If you are connected to cable or satellite, generally speaking you will NOT need Uncle Sam’s box no matter what type of set you have. ONLY if you get your TV signal by rabbit ears or an indoor or outdoor physical antenna, will it be a possible issue if the set does not have a digital tuner.

    Comment by pam m — January 10, 2008 @ 1:38 pm
  17. Those 14.3M should all get cable or satellite.

    Comment by shawn — January 11, 2008 @ 11:55 am
  18. I sure am glad I got rid of y TV awhile back. Now I do not have to worry about all this hubbub. I just use my computer to get any news or the free TV shows I want.

    Comment by Martin — January 11, 2008 @ 1:23 pm
  19. to shawn:
    not all of us can or want to pay upwards of $100 per month to waste time watching nothing on tv! i can’t find any channel worth paying what cable and satellite providers charge for. nor do i have the extra money to pay for it!

    Comment by jamie — January 11, 2008 @ 2:18 pm
  20. Just a note to those planning on holding out for competition to force the prices lower, an article from NBC station WGEM claims the retailers will not have a say in the price. Here’s the quote from their article:
    “All stores will have to charge the same price for the device, and that will cost around $60.00″

    Full article can be found here:
    http://www.wgem.com/News/index.php?ID=20650

    Now, considering this is a small market station and I haven’t heard this from anywhere else, I am somewhat skeptical that this is actually true, but wanted to pass it along none the less.

    Comment by Joe — January 12, 2008 @ 1:09 pm
  21. I think that one of the satilite companies like direct tv will sell one for $40.00 thats why it is recommended to get the coupon now and buy from them.

    Comment by Norman Scheck — January 14, 2008 @ 10:01 pm
  22. Edgar,
    In 2009, if I take my cable line and plug it directly into the back of my analog TV set,
    no converter box…just straight cable from the wall to the TV, will I still get basic
    cable as I do today not using a cable supplied box or this new converter box.

    Edgar replies: That is the $64 question! The FCC has been very cagey in their answer, saying that cable companies will take care of it. As of yesterday, the FCC, apparently in a telephone conference call, told consumer people that some cable companies might require customers such as yourself (and me) to get a box from the cable company. I would hope that most would not do this as a means to get a monthly rental fee from customers who historically have not wanted nor needed a box. The FCC coupon program is for a different type of box, incidentally — for those who get their signals over the air.

    Comment by Dave M — January 17, 2008 @ 2:40 am
  23. Lots of questions, not a lot of answers.

    (1) I bought a nice HD-ready TV last year. I expect that to work with digital, but who knows?

    (2) These gov’t-subsidized programs usually cause an unneccesary spike in prices because vendors know that people don’t mind spending $20 for a $40 item, so they charge $60 and take the $40 coupon that we all pay fdor in taxes. Nice of them to take advantage of consumers.

    (3) TV commercials are bombarding us with this issue here in San Diego. I find it quite annoying since the “problem” is over a year away. I guess it’s okay to get early warning, but they are presenting it as a panic situation?

    (4) I suspect that as the time draws closer we’ll see a spike in the cost of “digital-ready” TVs while the panic sets in. Shortly after the conversion, those prices will plummet, as will the cost of the converters since people will already either have them or their TVs will be upgraded. I’ll keep my old TVs without converter, wait for the fire sale and buy them for $5 rather than $20 + $40 coupon.

    (5) TVs will not “break” after the conversion. They simply won’t receive digital signals. All those VCRs and DVDs we’ve been collecting over the years will still be perfectly fine, so I’ll use all of my TVs for that until the time is right (and cheap enough) to upgrade.

    (6) If my cable company cannot provide a signal to MY (analog) TVs, there’s a good chance that they will not be getting my money every month!

    Comment by RS — January 20, 2008 @ 2:59 pm
  24. “the hub-bub is the 14.3 million households that still use over-the-air television.”

    “still” use over-the-air television? Should be “choose” to use OTA TV. I was a satellite user, but once I discovered I could get PERFECT digital HDTV for FREE from a simple antenna, I dropped satellite. I don’t miss the extra channels and the monthly bill. As a bonus, my picture is better with the antenna than it was when I was “still” with satellite service.

    Comment by Whidbey — January 25, 2008 @ 4:02 pm
  25. I’d wait until all the coupons expire, then you’ll be able to pick up a converter for, probably under $20. While the coupons are good? There’s going to be an awful lot of $39.99 converters on the market.

    Comment by George T — January 27, 2008 @ 12:22 pm
  26. This is one of the biggest scams ever foisted on the American Public. Guess who is paying for the Coupons? That’s right, you the taxpayer. And why? So that the TV Networks can go digital. And why? Why is right, I have read the technical reasons but in terms of real motivation, there is none. The consumer was not clamoring for this. And it hurts the poor and lower middle class the most.

    Comment by Mark Smith — February 11, 2008 @ 1:07 pm
  27. In the end it is going to happen weather we want it to or not. You cannot say that an analog signal is better than a digital signal. Digital is far superior. We are just perpetuating the stereotype of the American couch potato anyways. Why not go outside for once, I don’t know try talking to your wife and kids for a change. I say turn off the TVs, Computers, MP3, and cell phones. Lets get up and stop complaining about a recession, because we all seem to have enough time on our hands to watch TV, and go out. Use that extra money that your are not spending on satellite or cable, and treat your family to a nice dinner and a movie.

    Come on people have we really come to a society that is willing to sit back and watch life happen until we die. We don’t care anymore, 45 percent of us don’t vote, and the other 55 percent vote poorly. This is just another time where the American people will sit back and hope that the government has their best interest at hearts. For the people by the people right, or is it for the Big business and by the government.

    TV, pshaw go read a book. Get out of the house, and take some stock in life before its to late.

    Comment by Matt — March 1, 2008 @ 10:39 pm
  28. To “Chris Farley”:
    You cannot sell the coupons anywhere, that would be a federal offense. Not using it won’t “expose” anything, except your idiocy. Once expired, it won’t be usable…it will be reported as expired in our system and a new coupon will be printed in its place, for someone else to order.

    And to the “fran kaye” above you…I was probably that woman you talked to on the dtv hotline! And let me tell you, the gov’t doesn’t tell us anything more that it tell you!

    Comment by parka — March 19, 2008 @ 5:53 pm
  29. Who are they trying to kid ? I’ve ALREADY seen the boxes in ( a ) popular
    store ready for sale.
    What are they waiting for ??? For ALL retatil store to have them in stock.
    Lyers i say.

    Comment by WILLIAM — April 1, 2008 @ 10:38 pm
  30. i got my coupons end of april,used one that day at radio shack.got a great box works great even without the amplified antenna i’m going to get.($10.00) out of pocket for the box.now i have till the end of july to get my other box,there are many websites with many boxes to choose from,not to mention that the first store i walked into had many boxes in stock.still lots of time to get my next one.maybe i’m just an optimest,i don’t know,but the only problem i’ve had so far is a really great picture with more channels.and trust me i’m not a rich man,i’m only $5.00 above poverty level.thank you uncle sam for the $80.00,my t.v. has’nt look this good since i stopped being robbed buy the cable company years ago.

    Comment by john — May 1, 2008 @ 5:56 pm
  31. For all the people complaining about the cost to taxpayers, and how we are all really getting hosed, the maximum amount that the government will spend on this program is about $1.3 billion or so. As the program stands now, we are on the hook for $900 million. In March, the government finished off its auction of part of the old analog spectrum that is being replaced. Companies paid us taxpayers about $19.6 BILLION. The government uses about 5% of the money they collected to help with the transition, and for once, we can see where our tax dollars are going. What’s wrong with that?

    Comment by The Captain — May 4, 2008 @ 11:29 pm
  32. I GOT THE BOXES. WHAT WAS CONFUSING TO ME IS THEY WHOEVER THAT IS MADE ME FELL THAT I NEEDED THE CONVERTER BOXES. THAN AS TIME WENT ON I WAS MADE TO UNDERSTAND THAT IF U HAVE CABLE U DONT NEED IT. WELL WHY DIDN’T THEY SAY THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. IF U HAVE CABLE U DONT NEED A CONVERTER BOX.
    CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG.

    EXCUSSE THE LARGE LETTERS I AM LEGALLY BLIND

    DONNA HARDIGREE

    Comment by DONNA HARDIGREE — May 12, 2008 @ 7:27 pm
  33. I ordered these on New years day, now both are expired, because no local retailer sold analog pass through boxes, also in december all boxes with advanced technology will be under 40 bucks.

    Funai the company that makes emerson and sylvannia shoddy products , is the reason no component outputs are allowed even though most analog TVs have component out put.

    REASON is FUNAI: told NTIA to ban any connector that gives a better picture then the viewer now get via analog. Ouch, they really mean they can’t compete with the better boxes unless those are banned.

    Yet Funnai asked NTIA to permit expensive smart antannae to be bunndeld with their 100 bucks boxes, NTIA only accepted allowing the smart antananae connection.

    Boycott Funai ( Emerrson Sylvnnia). if not enjoy there shoddy items

    Comment by Jill Mola — May 29, 2008 @ 5:50 am
  34. I have cable. Comcast to be exact. These boxes will be great when the cable goes out after a storm! We had a storm last week, the electricy came on after 2 hours, but Comcast was out for 2 days! These boxes are going to be good for emergencies, remember, no more over the air broadcasting! In case of a storm or hurricane, your going to need to get the news, just have a small antenna tv to go with it!

    Comment by Kathy — June 9, 2008 @ 8:04 pm
  35. I got my coupons early, and they expired last week. Guess what… all of the local stores are ‘Out of stock’ and have been for the last 2 months. Either someone has vastly miscalculated the number of people who still use OTA TV signals, or the supply of converters has been intentionally kept low so as to push new digital-ready TVs.

    When BestBuy, RadioShack, and WalMArt cant keep up with demand… something is screwy.

    Comment by Tehrasha — June 10, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
  36. 1. Ant twin lead input can be converted to 300ohm from able 75ohm with a matching transformer. 2$ to 5$

    2. If your TV is not HD you need the converter box to match the Digital signal from the cable or off the air signal. The HD signal not matter what source, is converted to analog for the non-HD TV.

    Comment by Chazz — June 12, 2008 @ 3:35 pm
  37. I got the coupons, but they expired before I could buy a suitable box. Most retailers (like Walmart) don’t have it in stock. So what options do I have now that the coupons have expired?

    Comment by Raj — June 13, 2008 @ 4:19 pm
  38. The FCC rule when the standard for HDTV was being tested was that the signal MUST still be viewable on analog TV and not make them extinct. The FCC selected a standard put together by multiple companies. How did these companies get the FCC to have the taxpayer pay for any type of conversion box. All these companies will be getting royalties from everyone transmitting using this standard they developed so why aren’t they paying for the box that should not be required in the first place according to the FCC themselves. Has big business once again lobbied in washington and got the taxpayer to subsidize them. I Know this for a fact as I was invested in Zenith Electronics in the late 80′s early 90′s and watched this battle of the standard very closely. My questions to the FCC is 1.) What made you change your mind? and 2.) Even if you had to for some reason, why should the taxpayer pay for this when all these royalties are going to be paid to these companies for years to come?

    Comment by George — June 13, 2008 @ 8:15 pm
  39. yea i got bitten by this badly written legislation. i ordered the coupons early and got the coupon early. thats great right? no:( the selection of converter boxes was abysmal early on and even worse many lg chipset units had defective audio(sibilance on the left audio channel). with only 90 days the better units wouldn’t come out until long after my coupons expired. so i was left to buy a defective zenith and then later on return it to the manufacturer for a fix.

    what a pain eh?

    Comment by fred — June 22, 2008 @ 6:26 pm
  40. I got the coupons, and they are now expired. I looked every time i was in Wal Mart and they were sold out. So what options do I have now that the coupons have expired?

    Comment by Fred Nichols — July 26, 2008 @ 12:35 pm
  41. OK, I’m pissed now. We live in a rural area that can only get antenna or Satellite. We have satellite in the living room, but not in the other 3 rooms. I have useless, expired, coupons for this garbage that is not available in our local Walleria. What can we do?

    Comment by Debbie Flippo — August 6, 2008 @ 12:04 am
  42. The government does whatever they please, I am retired and have bad health, it isn’t easy for me to go running around looking for a converter box. Every time I get to a store that offers the box, they say that they have run out. The coupons should not have an expiration date, as a matter of fact we shouldn’t even have to have a coupon, we pay taxes, and how do we pay taxes, the box should be mailed to everyone who wants them for the ten dollars plus shipping and leave it at that.

    Comment by Retired — August 25, 2008 @ 11:02 pm
  43. what right does the goverment have to tell TV station how and what to broadcast????

    Comment by wargammer2005 — September 15, 2008 @ 1:55 pm
  44. Can the coupon be used to buy a DTV, like a HDTV? After all, I’ll pay the rest of the cost of the HDTV.

    Edgar replies: the coupons are for any box on the FCC’s approved list, and NOTHING else.

    Comment by David — September 17, 2008 @ 6:28 pm
  45. Thanks Edgar. I searched for a while to look for the FCC’s approved list box. Do you happen to know the link to it? Too bad the coupon couldn’t use it for a HDTV. BTW, any one you recommend for the converter box?

    Edgar replies: A list of eligible boxes is here. I tested a couple, and the DTT901 from Zenith is the one I picked (and is preferred by many who tried several). It is sold at Circuit City and some Kmarts.

    Comment by David — September 18, 2008 @ 11:10 pm
  46. Thanks again Edgar. That’s great info. Great, DTT901 allows analog channels also. Looking at the DTT901 spec, it says the output is Audio R/L, Video, and RF modular output. With my old TV which just has a coaxial input, is the RF modular output the one I would just connect from the converter box to the TV?
    Edgar replies: yes.

    Comment by David — September 20, 2008 @ 10:00 pm
  47. i have been to walmart 6 times to get my box, they never had them, another rip off. my coupons will expire before i can use them

    Comment by annie rainbo — September 22, 2008 @ 2:44 pm
  48. Yeap–my coupons–one expired before the stores had boxes in stock and the other coupon never arrived yet when I check the status–it has been mailed and expired– lovely–so I am responsible for problems with stocking stores and problems with mail delivery too?

    Comment by AC — October 4, 2008 @ 5:12 pm
  49. Gee thanks government, my coupons expired before I could find a DTV converter box to buy!! No one wants to let me use their name and address because it is the US government! I also heard on TV news that the cheaper boxes DO NOT bring in Canadian stations! I live near Detroit, Michigan just across the Detroit River from Canada. I would like to watch Channel 9 CBC Hockey Night in Canada, etc. Now I hear the non-DTV converted Tv’s in Canada will not pick-up US stations! Can anyone tell me what’s going on in Canada? DTV coupons — Another US government blunder!

    Comment by julie jobhunt — October 14, 2008 @ 11:13 am
  50. I tried to avoid the rush and ordered my coupons early. When I received them I started shopping. None looked good. End result, now they finally have boxes I like and my coupons have expired. They won’t renew them so I have 2 pieces of worthless plastic now.

    Comment by Hopeless — November 11, 2008 @ 1:29 pm
  51. Well, I got stuck with expired coupons, too. However, I was able to get a friend to apply for me. Unfortunately, that was back in late August, and I still don’t have any coupons. We e-mailed the site inquiring on October 20, asking if they ran out or something, and they said to give it another 2-3 weeks. It’s been nearly four. We e-mailed again today. I just love it.

    Comment by S. Fine — November 18, 2008 @ 9:08 am
  52. Wait till you try one of these pieces of crap in a rural area, bet the government didn’t even test one of these out, They don’t hold onto a long range signal for nothing, got 4 coupouns, tried 4 different ones, Where does that mystery money if you return them, back to the government? get a hdtv don’t waste time on the box, total crap made in some Chinese garage for 20 cents, these boxes Will probably burn your house down from bad soldering and wireing. They scare me.

    Comment by Tom — November 18, 2008 @ 7:27 pm
  53. Seems to me the coupon should never have been, we should have all been able to simply purchase this dtv box and the nessasary paperwork be filed by the company it was purchased from. how many times I arrived at a store to find no unit available,or units available but didn’t have coupons on me only to come back in a couple of days to find all were sold, at this point I really, no longer [care] if I have TV or not given the extremely poor programming that is availlable anyway. books are infinatly more entertaining.

    Comment by gerard a witte — November 20, 2008 @ 6:32 pm
  54. I am experiencing the same dilemma as others — my coupons expired. I ordered early and received them in April 2008. I was stupid for not looking thoroughly reviewing the coupon information and learning that they expired. I ordered the coupons again on the internet, and received a letter from the DTV Converter Box Program “authorities” in Portland that said I could not receive new coupons. They also said that there is no restriction in the program for giving the coupons to someone else. I have a family member who is giving me their coupons.
    I have already lost channels on Comcast when several channels (specifically the TV Guide channel) decided to move to digital in early November. Now I see snow on those channels.

    Comment by marcia — December 1, 2008 @ 3:25 pm
  55. i ordered my coupons in october and got them in november. i was able to purchase a box at brandsmart (doraville GA) $8 out of pocket. that same day i checked in the local walmarts, best buy and targets and they all had them. prices ranged from $44 to $59.

    for those of you wondering what will happen in feb to their tv thats hooked up to analog cable, you should be fine. the fcc ruling is only desiged to shut off analog BROADCAST stations, what you receive with and antenna hooked up to your tv. the ruling has nothing to do with cable providers.

    currently your cable provider sends an analog signal and a digital one into your house. current cable ready tvs can view unscrambled analog cable w/out a box. if you have a digital tv w/ digtial cable tuner you can view the same channels analog or digital, again unscrambled.

    however; if the cable comp wants to “migrate” some of the analog channels to the digital stream your analag cable ready tv will not see those channels any more. the digital tv will only see the channel if it is not encrypted/scrambled. the only way a digital tv can see an encrypted digital channel is with a digital box or a cable card, both of wich can only be found at your local cable proider.

    why would they migrate the channels?

    a: to offer you more channels. each analog channel carries enough bandwidth for 6 standard def digital channels or 2 Hi Def channels

    B: greed, they will charge you the initial cable subscrip fee and the additional outlet fees for each box you have in the house.

    C: circumvent the cable thieves. cable companies have had a hard time stopping people from illegally hooking up cable, plus prewired houses and cable ready tvs pissed them off royally. if they decide to go all digital except for the must carry channels (broadcast nets, pbs) the thieves would have to subscribe to something, $$$ windfall for cable/sat co. even if they have digital cable ready tvs they still cannot see anything the cable co doesnt want you to see unless you pay. for the proper services and equipment.

    (in the 80′s the cable comp came to your house and installed the wiring because most homes were not prewired for cable. many tvs at that time were not cable ready either. so you were generally billed for the install and each room that had one of those analog cable boxes.)

    so if they decided to as a bu$ine$$ decision they could, but its not in the FCC mandate to do so.

    yes in time sombody may hack the encryption, but the majority wont. it is a difficult thing to do. cable box manufactures only sell them to cable companies, and the same goes for cable card manufacturers.

    Comment by Daren — December 7, 2008 @ 12:25 am
  56. somebody hit the nail on the head, i feel that the retailers were intentionally keeping the supplies short because they want people to buy the shiny new HDTV.

    secondly the DTV converters were closer to ~$40 to $50 before the public became more aware of the DTV cupons.

    Comment by Daren — December 7, 2008 @ 12:33 am
  57. This site appears to answer most of the questions that I have seen above (I haven’t read everyone). Check the FAQ.
    If useful to you, try: https://www.dtv2009.gov/

    Comment by Tonto — December 16, 2008 @ 5:01 pm
  58. At least you got your coupons. Mine got lost in the mail, and now they say I can’t get anymore. I never even got them in the first place.

    Comment by Will — December 22, 2008 @ 12:34 pm
  59. I bought a HDTV without a tuner- it was a great price, but quite a headache. I currently get cable to it from a VCR player. And my school provides cable with a few HD channels. If I were to purchase a converter box such as the Access HD box will I be able to view these channels?

    Comment by Natalie — December 28, 2008 @ 8:33 pm
  60. I ordered the coupons and never received them. I am on SSI and can’t afford to buy converter boxes. This is not fair to me. There are others in my building who says they never received any either. My TV is my only entertainment. since I am disable. I need help.

    Comment by Patricia Martin — December 30, 2008 @ 11:48 pm
  61. I applied for my converter box on Dec. 08, 2008 and they were sceduled to be mailed on Dec. 26, 2008. To date, I have not received my coupons and have no way to find out if they were even mailed or if they have been confiscated at the post office or from my mail box. I need an email address to confirm if the coupons have been used.

    Comment by Boyce E. Morris — January 6, 2009 @ 4:37 pm
  62. I ordered coupons too around Dec 9th — two coupons for 4 different households and none of the housholds have received their coupons yet….I look on the website and all it say when I type in the confirmation code is — they should have been mailed on Dec 22 — and it will take approx 10 days to mail them. Well, it has been over 20days since Dec 22nd —– and I still don’t have them…what do I do now?

    Comment by Christy — January 17, 2009 @ 4:22 am
  63. I ordered our coupons on 12/19/2008. When I check status on the website it says if ordered between December 13 – 19, 2008 , the target mail date is 1/2/2009 with delivery expected approximately 10 days from the date mailed. It is 1/28 and they still have not arrived. If the target mail dates have been delayed , they could at least update the website schedule or post another option to find the status.

    Comment by bambi — January 29, 2009 @ 12:20 am
  64. I have an expired coupon and now no store will accept it. How dumb is that? So we, the taxpayers, are going to spend more money printing more cards for all those who have not used their cards and are now expired. Isn’t a trillion dollar debt enough? Do we really want to spend more money to make new cards? OMG!!!

    Comment by cawilma — February 27, 2009 @ 2:29 pm
  65. IN RESPONSE TO TOM S.

    THE REASON THE 90 TIME LIMIT WAS FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF WHO DO NOT USE THEIR COUPONS BY THE EXPIRATION DATE.
    THE UNUSED COUPONS ARE CREDITED BACK TO THE COUPON POOL WHERE THEY CAN BE ISSUED TO SOMEONE REQUESTING THEM.
    THIS ENSURES THE COUPONS ARE BEING USED AND NOT SETTING SOMEWHERE COLLECTING DUST MAKING CERTAIN ALL PROGRAM ASSETS ARE NOT WASTED FOR THOSE COUPONS WHICH HAVE EXPIRED, LOST, OR “THROWN IN THE TRASH”.

    Comment by EDDIE A. — June 7, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

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