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Many await TV converter coupons

January 10, 2009

Millions of people have been getting federal coupons for boxes to convert televisions from analog to digital as the Feb. 17 deadline approaches when all broadcasts will switch.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has received requests for about 47 million coupons, of which more than 19 million have been redeemed, Todd Sedmak, a spokesman for the program, said Friday.

Each government-issued coupon is worth $40 toward the cost of a converter box needed for televisions now using antennas.

Televisions connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service don't need converter boxes, according to https://www.dtv2009.gov, a Department of Commerce Web site for the program.

Coupons representing the entire $1.34 billion earmarked for the conversion program have been issued, Sedmak said.

However, that doesn't mean there's no money left. Sedmak said coupons are good for 90 days. When they expire, funding becomes available again and more coupons are issued.

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About 53 percent of the coupons requested had been redeemed as of Jan. 5, according to a press release issued by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. More than 13 million coupons had expired.

As of Jan. 4, everyone asking for coupons was being placed on a waiting list.

-- Andrew Schotz

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