US digital conversion 'free'

Converting to digital in the US could, theoretically be free as EchoStar Communications announced it teamed up with Sling Media to brand a converter box that it said will sell for $39.99. They say it will comply with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s specifications for devices that can be covered entirely by the NTIA’s subsidized $40 coupons.

EchoStar said it would also market a higher-end box with digital-video-recorder functionality (DVR boxes do not qualify for the coupons).

Meantime, DISH Network also announced a price-freeze on programming packages. It’s not a permanent freeze, but a guarantee that prices won’t rise on packages until February 2009. The No. 2 satellite TV platform made the announcement at CES, which in addition to programming packages includes no jump in prices for the company’s DishDVR Advantage offering

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