In a press release yesterday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it had cleared the backlog of rebate coupon requests for digital converter boxes, and is accepting new applications. For the first time, the agency is also accepting applications from households who received rebate coupons, but who failed to redeem them before their 90-day expiration. If you received two coupons and used one but the other has expired, you can still apply to replace the expired one.
The NTIA is now mailing the coupons by first class mail, so applicants should receive them more quickly. The press release cited a nine-business-day turnaround for fulfilling coupon applications. The NTIA also emphasizes that consumers should set up and test their converter boxes as soon as they buy them, so that they can make sure that they are working properly before the cut-off date. Here are the details for applying for a new or replacement rebate coupon:
Households may apply for coupons online at www.DTV2009.gov, by phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), via fax at 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632) or by mail to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish TTY). Nursing home residents may apply with the paper application available downloadable at www.DTV2009.gov. For more information about the Coupon Program, please visit www.DTV2009.gov and for questions about the DTV transition, go to www.dtv.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.
This news — coupled with the optimistic numbers reported by Nielsen — may mean that even more U.S. viewers will be ready when the analog broadcasts stop on June 12. I still expect millions of low-income and elderly viewers to be unprepared, and hope that local government and private groups will make an effort to make sure that such members in their community get the help they need to get ready for the transition.