Steven Sande reports that Best Buy may not be ready to accept the $40 government coupons for DTV converter boxes until April 1st:
... The cutover to digital TV, with its myriad details, is difficult enough to explain to consumers. For months, Congress has been urging broadcasters to promote the change to DTV early and often. But if viewers cannot use their coupons at what is, for many households, the default store for electronics purchases, it undercuts the coupon program’s credibility. ¶ The retailer told Congress this week that its computers and cash registers will not be ready to handle the government coupons on January 1. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released the government’s rules for the coupon program in March, so it’s not as if Best Buy hasn’t had enough time to prepare for the necessary changes to its systems. ...
And that the NTIA has known this all along:
... The Bush administration may have even signaled to retailers that if they weren’t ready in time, no big deal. Indeed, earlier this year the Commerce Department suggested as much, in the discussion section of its converter box coupon rules:
The [Digital TV] Act requires NTIA to accept requests for coupons between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, and thus, it proposed that retailers be ready to redeem coupons starting January 1, 2008, consistent with the statutory guidance. NTIA expects widespread retailer POS system modifications to occur in the first quarter of 2008.
In other words, the news that stores may not be ready until April 1 is not really news to NTIA.
Link: Digital TV Facts: The Latest.
This comes as it's announced that NTIA head John Kneuer is stepping down "to pursue new opportunities." Link: AP. For those caught in television's coming Katrina, we can paraphrase our president: "You've done a heckuva job, Johnnie." --Dennis