Digital Television Transition: Implementation of the Converter Box Subsidy Program Is Under Way, but Preparedness to Manage an Increase in Subsidy Demand Is Unclear

GAO-08-1040 Published: Sep 16, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2008.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 requires all full-power television stations in the United States to cease analog broadcasting after February 17, 2009, known as the digital television (DTV) transition. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is responsible for implementing a subsidy program to provide households with up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of converter boxes. In this requested report, GAO examines (1) what consumer education efforts have been undertaken by private and federal stakeholders and (2) how effective NTIA has been in implementing the converter box subsidy program, and to what extent consumers are participating in the program. To address these issues, GAO analyzed data from NTIA and reviewed legal, agency, and industry documents. Also, GAO interviewed a variety of stakeholders involved with the DTV transition.

Skip to Recommendations


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce To help NTIA prepare for a potential increase in demand for converter box coupons and so that consumers are not left waiting a lengthy amount of time for requested coupons, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NTIA to develop a plan to manage volatility in coupon requests so that coupons can be processed and mailed within 10 to 15 days from the day the coupon applications are approved, per NTIA's stated requirement.
Closed – Implemented
In response to our recommendation, NTIA implemented a plan for how NTIA and its contractor would respond to the likely increase in coupon demand during the final 100 days prior to the DTV transition to ensure consumers were not subject to delays in receiving their coupons.

Full Report