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New I've got my TV converter box coupon.
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New I've got my TV converter box coupon. - 02-May-2008, 12:50

I've got my TV converter box coupon.

I applied in February for the government's special offer, which gives me $40 towards the purchase of a converter box that changes digital over-the-air signals into analog format for my 16-year-old television set. I received the credit card-like coupon last week. And when I received it, I must have experienced the euphoria Steve Martin's character in the 70's movie "The Jerk" felt when he discovered that his name was - yes - in the phone book.

It was a long time coming and now the coupon is here, 291 days before the nation's transition to digital broadcast TV.

I joined 10 million other television viewers who have requested the coupons. For me, I was curious about how the program worked and if it worked at all.

So far, the government effort appears to be running smoothly, yet maybe not flawlessly. The initial online application process was easy. The wait for the coupon was a bit lengthy for me. But the appearance of the coupon's simplicity, a list of retailers where I can buy a box, and a list of FAQs suggest the program hasn't left any DTV transition stone unturned.

But now that I have the coupon, I'm facing some personal conundrums.

Is this a government handout? And worse, should the government subsidize my TV viewing experience?

Also, it's not like pay-TV services aren't within my reach. Is it fair that I receive a $40 coupon - which for the most part covers all of my cost for a basic converter box - when there are others who cannot afford cable or satellite TV? Shouldn't the coupon go to those struggling consumers?

Nonetheless, these are the questions I ponder as I consider what converter box model I will pick up for my college-era television set in the basement.

Let's hope the retail experience is as pleasant as the first steps of the coupon program itself.
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