CEA says switchover subsidy needs more time

Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro has said the US government should give viewers more time to cash in their digital-TV-to-analogue converter-box coupons. Shapiro said there was a growing consensus that viewers should be allowed to reapply for the coupons being handed out by the government toward the purchase of the converter boxes, which will allow viewers with analog-only sets not hooked to cable or satellite to still see full-power TV-station signals after Feb. 17, 2009.

Shapiro said he thought the DTV-education programme was going along well and he did not buy the doom-and-gloom scenarios about Feb. 17, 2009. “The world is not going to shut down and nuclear missiles are not going to go off” if a few people lose TV service for a short amount of time, he said, comparing what he called a “minuscule” number of those with, say, the “two million people who lost their homes due to foreclosures in 2007.”

Shapiro added that the DTV-education initiative, in which the CEA is a leader, would do all that it could to try to make sure nobody lost service because they were unaware of the transition. That’s our job,” he said, adding, “Everyone should know about it.” Shapiro said he expected that fewer than 10 per cent of TV households would need the converter boxes, pointing out that cable and satellite penetration are already about 86 per cent and growing and that more than one-half of TV households have DTV sets, with another 32 million projected to be sold in 2008.

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