Digital TV converter box program complete

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SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL-TV and the other Salt Lake stations turned off their analog signals back on June 12. Since then, broadcasters have transmitted digital signals for their programming.

Because many Americans still had older TVs, the government committed more than $1 billion for a coupon program so people could purchase converter boxes and still get over-the-air signals.

**TV Converter Box Coupons**
Coupons Requested 64,105,127
Coupons Redeemed 34,879,122
Coupons Expired 29,226,005
Redemption Rate 54.5%

The coupon program officially ended this week, and here's how the numbers stacked up: More than 64 million coupons were requested and mailed out, but only 54.5 percent were actually redeemed. KSL-TV Chief Engineer Brent Robinson wasn't expecting that.

"That really surprises me. I thought the number would be much higher, that three-quarters or 80 percent of these coupons would be redeemed," Robinson says.

It turns out, nearly 35 million coupons were used to buy converter boxes; but 29-million expired, unused. Those expired coupons are worth more than $455 million, which the federal government will take back.

**TV Converter Box requests**

State Coupons Requested % of total requested
--Utah476,401 0.7%
LeastWyoming45,983 0.0007%

California and Texas had the highest coupon request numbers. For Utah, 476,401 coupons were sent here. So how is the "state of digital TV" in Utah? After 5 months, Robinson says things are going well -- for the most part.

"There are some small pockets here and there where the UHF signal does not reach. But these communities are trying to solve the problems themselves," he says.

This government-mandated change cost billions of dollars to make happen, affected millions of Americans and it took a decade to do it.

"I'm glad it's over," Robinson says.

If you still have those expired coupons, toss them. They're no longer worth the plastic they're made of. Now your choices for digital TV are: buy a new TV or subscribe to cable or satellite.


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Keith McCord


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