Converter Box Coupon Program – 2013 Update

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The TV Converter Box Coupon Program was a subsidy that ran in the United states from January 2008 to July 2009. It was created in reaction to the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, which required that all TV stations cease analog broadcasting by February 2009 (later extended to June 2009 through the DTV Delay Act).

The program was a success, but not everyone got on board on time

Since people still wanted to receive over-the-air transmissions on their analog-only TVs, the Act authorized the creation of a government funded digital-to-analog converter box assistance program, aimed specifically at low income families, disabled individuals, immigrants, inner city and rural dwellers, as they were deemed more likely to rely on antennas rather than satellite and cable TV.

According to the Act, eligible households could obtain up to two coupons worth $40 each, for the purpose of buying converter boxes. On a background of economic recession, research companies concluded that most Americans were more likely to purchase a cheap converter box than invest in an expensive digital TV, or switch to satellite. Consequently, the program was a resounding success, with tens of millions of households having requested coupons.

By January 2009, $1.34 billion worth of coupons had been issued. In spite of this, it was estimated that 5.8 million American households were still not ready for the transition in February 2009, the original deadline of the program. The DTV Delay Act extended the deadline to June 2009, giving more households the chance to prepare for the transition, but also adding $490 million in funding for more coupons.

At the time the transition to digital broadcast came into effect, research data suggested that 2.5 million Americans were still not able to receive digital signals, although it was later revealed that many more households had requested coupons, but had not redeemed them.

You can still get good value on affordable converter boxes

Today, consumers who have not benefited from the government funded Converter Box Coupon Program can still update their old analog TVs by purchasing affordable converted boxes online or in electronics stores, with Amazon, Ebay, Best Buy, Walmart and Craiglist offering some interesting deals.

Best Buy provides a line of simple converter boxes that sell for only $26, but also more advanced models costing $40 and $60. Walmart also offers an interesting selection of "in stores only" converter boxes, as well as a few models that can be bought through its online store.

At Amazon, customers can buy new or used converter boxes, costing about $40 a piece, on average, the same price that the old Converter Box Coupon Program was willing to offer for a converter box. Cheaper models, costing under $30 are also available, as are expensive converters, costing up to $100. One popular model is the Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box, which costs $45. According to consumer reviews, the cheap, $30 models do what they are supposed to, but users shouldn't expect anything more than basic conversion of digital to analog.

For questions regarding digital-to-analog converter boxes, visit DTVUSAForum's digital converter box forum.
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  1. Fringe Reception's Avatar
    Nice update, Michelle!
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