Lawmakers are considering whether or not to push back the scheduled February 17th conversion from an analog to a digital TV signal because the funding for the government coupons that were supposed to help defray the cost of purchasing a converter box has run out. Barack Obama has argued that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air channels will not be ready and will be unable to use their TV sets if the change goes as planned.
The government-sponsored coupon program allows consumers to request as many as two $40 vouchers per household to help pay for the boxes, which generally cost between $40 and $80 each and can be purchased without a coupon at most big-box electronics retailers. A waiting list has requests for 1.1 million coupons. In order to get the program going again, Congress would need to pass a new bill to re-fund it. Congress has reported it is currently working on a bill to address the problem.