David Hatch writes:
A federal coupon program that will help consumers buy equipment needed to keep analog television sets functioning after the nation shifts to digital signals will be broader than originally planned . ¶ Under guidelines released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, consumers who subscribe to cable or satellite television can participate. Those households were originally excluded because they can receive digital broadcast signals via subscription services. ¶ But Democratic lawmakers, broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and watchdog groups had complained that many analog sets in such homes are not connected to pay television -- and would go dark when the switch-over occurs Feb. 17, 2009. ¶ The new plan would let pay-TV customers apply for up to two $40 coupons per household to purchase converter boxes that allow over-the-air digital signals to be viewed on older analog sets. ...
Link: National Journal.
Note that these are Standard Definition set-top boxes only. The performance specs are said to be good by those who have looked at it. The SD limitation isn't a problem for those who will be using these for their analog set, but that doesn't give consumers an upgrade path to HD by buying an appropriate monitor later on.
Update 19 Mar. 2007:
The NAB has posted a summary of the required features and those which are optional for the converters in a PDF.--Dennis