Trying To Figure Out How DTV Conversion Program Could Run Out Of Coupons
from the something-doesn't-make-sense dept
There are plenty of reports going around about how the federal government’s program to supply coupons for TV digital converter boxes has run out of money while plenty of folks who need them still haven’t converted (meaning their TVs won’t work next month). Because there’s still some confusion about this, it bears repeating: this conversion does not matter in the slightest for anyone who uses cable or satellite TV. It only impacts those who just get over-the-air TV through an antenna. Yet apparently, somewhere around 7% of those people aren’t yet prepared for the changeover — though, assuming they care (i.e., they watch TV) they’ll figure out what went wrong pretty soon.
What I’m still trying to figure out, though, is how the program ran out of money. The setup of the program now seems pretty silly. Basically, the feds offered coupons to people to use when buying the boxes, and the feds funded the difference. But why didn’t the feds just buy the boxes itself and sell them off at a discount? Part of the problem now is that many of the coupons haven’t been redeemed, and no one’s sure if they will be redeemed or not — leaving the amount of money available in question. It seems like there are about 30 different ways that uncertainty could have been averted, such as by just having the sellers report the sales to the Feds and get the “coupon fee” directly. Either way, it seems like yet another program where the FCC didn’t do a very good job planning out how this transition would work.