DTV Primer

Home | What Transition? | Converter Boxes | What's Analog? | Timeline | History | Glossary | E-mail |

National Zoo photo by Jessie Cohen


March 23, 2008

The format war is over, but this time the losers may be in for a consolation prize. Best Buy is giving $50 gift cards to customers who purchased an HD-DVD player from its U.S. stores before February 23, 2008. Almost like free money, and you get to keep your player.

For more info, go to

I visited my local Best Buy today to see how their stock of converter boxes was faring. They had moved them from the out-of-the-way location to a more central location; there were a half dozen or so instead of the multiple-stacks, and they were now stored on a bottom shelf a few inches off the floor.

There was no substantial display sign to draw shoppers' attention, and no unpacked display sample on the waist-level shelf with the other electonic components in that area. Just the one small item label.

So much for the promised consumer education campaign.

NTIA has a page on their web site with updated statistics on the converter box coupon program.

As of March 19 - 4.3 million accepted applications, 8.1 million coupons ordered, 10,280 certified retailer outlets, and 54 certified converter box models (among other things).

They've also posted the coupon mailing schedule:

Your Application Approval DateTargeted Mail Date
January 1, 20082/18 - 2/29/2008
January 2, 20083/3 - 3/14/2008
January 3 - 6, 20083/17 - 3/21/2008
January 7 - 13, 20083/24 - 3/28/2008
January 14 - 30, 20083/31 - 4/4/2008
January 31 - February 16, 20084/7 - 4/11/2008
February 17 - 24, 20084/14 - 4/18/2008
February 25 - March 6, 20084/21 - 4/25/2008

"*Note that coupons do not expire until 90 days after they have been mailed. Note also that coupons are being mailed via Standard mail (not first class mail), with delivery expected around 2-9 days from the mail date."

So, it looks like it's taking them almost two months from the time they get your application until they mail your coupons, and then it will likely take another week to be delivered via junk mail rates. Nice!

Channel Master (the antenna people) are advertising their new NTIA-certified converter box. I don't know how good it is, but in their press release they say: "The Channel Master by PCT new CM-7000 digital to analog converter box allows consumers to view high definition (HD) and digital television (DTV) broadcasts on their analog televisions."

If only it were true -- high definition on an analog TV!

The satellite carriage of broadcaster high-definition programming item that was on the FCC's March meeting agenda was deleted; the item was "adopted" before the Wednesday meeting. They have not yet issued a press release or the actual order describing what action they took.

FCC Chairman Martin did, however, outline the action during a Thursday general press briefing.

Satellite companies (DirecTV and Dish) will be required to phase in local high-definition programming according to a schedule proposed by . . . DirecTV and Dish. It's not a very ambitious mandate; those DBS providers are already providing more local HD channels than are required a couple of years from now. The mandated schedule:

By February 2010, local HD channels in 15% of the markets where they offer local channels.

By February 2011, local HD channels in 30% of the markets they serve.

By February 2012, HD in 60% of served markets.

By February 2013, four years after the end of the transition, local HD broadcasts in all markets where they provide local service.

Until next week . . . Nothing on my calendar until April.