CEA: No Need to Delay DTV Conversion
TVNEWSDAY, Jan 8 2009, 11:41 AM ET
With less than six weeks remaining before the transition to digital television is completed, the Consumer Electronics Association today announced that manufactures and retailers have ensured ample and widespread DTV converter box availability.
As of today, CEA said, more than 34,000 thousand retail outlets are offering coupon-eligible converter boxes to consumers, including at least seven major nationwide retailers and 35 online retailers.
An informal survey conducted by CEA on Jan. 7 found in-stock converter boxes at nationwide retail outlets including major consumer electronics retailers Best Buy, Circuit City and Radio Shack as well as Sears, Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart.
In addition to in-store availability of converter boxes, many of these outlets offer online and phone sales of converter boxes. Online-only retailers, CEA added, including Amazon.com, are stocked with multiple brands of converter boxes and many offer free shipping to consumers.
"Consumer awareness of the DTV transition is well over 90 percent," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "The majority of Americans now own a digital television and even more subscribe to multichannel video service. Converter boxes are in stock and available from retail outlets within reach of all Americans, and manufacturers and retailers will meet consumer demand. The DTV transition is on schedule and will be successful."
Reacting to published accounts of a call for consideration of a change to the DTV transition date, Shapiro said: "The facts clearly support maintaining the hard date of Feb. 17. Any delay to the transition date would cause massive confusion among the more than 90 percent of Americans who have already taken the necessary steps to prepare. Equally important, a delay could further slow first responders' access to valuable spectrum for emergency communications. It would also delay consumer access to innovative wireless broadband spectrum, further postponing America's return as global leader for broadband availability."
Although NTIA recently slowed distribution of DTV converter box coupons because of federal accounting rules, coupons remain in ample supply, CEA said. Specifically, as of Jan. 7, only about 19 million coupons had been redeemed out of the more than 33 million coupons available under the program.
"I encourage Congress and the new Administration to continue down the successful path we are currently traveling," said Shapiro. "Focus should be on ensuring that NTIA can quickly distribute coupons that are currently held up by bureaucratic accounting rules. After years of coordinated work, billions of dollars of investment, and unprecedented consumer education, an eleventh hour change to the DTV transition would create enormous uncertainty for consumers."
CEA has urged Congress to waive the Anti-Deficiency Act requirements with respect to the DTV coupon program, which would allow NTIA to distribute more coupons without additional appropriations.