This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).

You are here: home > living > technology

Consumers Union says Congress should consider delay of digital TV transition

Posted Monday, January 12, 2009

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page

Washington, DC — Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, said Congress should consider delaying the February 17 transition from analog to digital TV broadcasts.

In letters to members of Congress, President Bush, and President-elect Obama, Consumers Union pointed to the fact that the government program that subsidizes crucial TV converter boxes has run out of money, and hundreds of thousands of affected consumers are now on waiting lists for coupons.

The federal government mandated the digital TV switch to free up more room in the wireless spectrum. The government auctioned off the old analog frequencies to wireless broadband companies for $19 billion. Consumers who use “rabbit ear” aerials or rooftop antennas must upgrade their TVs for digital reception. The simplest upgrade is a converter box, which generally costs between $40 and $80. To help offset the cost, the government offered $40 coupons, but the program has run out of funds six weeks before the transition.

Joel Kelsey, policy analyst for Consumers Union, said, “The federal government is getting $19 billion from selling the analog TV spectrum, while people with analog TVs have to go out and spend their own money for a converter box. Everyone affected by the digital switch should be able to get their $40 coupons. Congress needs to consider delaying the transition until these problems are fixed.”

In addition to raising concerns about the coupon program, Consumers Union questioned the ability of the Federal Communications Commission’s national call center to handle the flood of calls expected before and after February 17, and it cited concerns about the amount of local assistance and public information available to at-risk consumers, particularly among elderly, rural, and low-income populations.

More information about the digital TV transition is available on the Consumer Reports web site at

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
Latest articles in Technology
Consumer Reports reveals top gadgets of summer
Consumer Reports' five must-sees at CES 2011

Got Feedback?
Send a letter to the editor.

Sign up for the Chatham Chatlist.

Promote your brand at

Subscribe now: RSS news feed, plus FREE headlines for your site