The Feb. 17 transition from analog to digital television broadcasting looms and as many as 8 million households are still unprepared, but the government program that subsidizes crucial TV converter boxes is about to run out of money, reports the Associated Press. People who still rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air signals–whether it is through rabbit-ear aerials on TVs or antennas on the roof–will see their screens go dark when the changeover happens. To avoid that, those people have to switch to cable or satellite TV, buy a television set with a digital tuner, or buy a converter box that can translate digital signals from the airwaves into analog. To subsidize the converter boxes, most of which cost between $40 and $80, the government has been letting consumers request up to two $40 coupons per home. But any day now, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the arm of the Commerce Department in charge of administering the coupon program, expects to hit a $1.34 billion funding ceiling set by Congress. Now the NTIA is warning that unless lawmakers step in quickly with more funding or new accounting rules, it will have to create a waiting list for coupon requests. If Congress doesn’t act soon, the NTIA says, consumers who apply for coupons in the final weeks leading up to the digital transition might not get them in time…

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