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"No we can't!"

February 17, 2009 -- this is a date that been burned into the memories of people across the United States. There have been numerous TV commercials talking about the switch and even local TV stations have gotten in on the act with their own infomercials on the switch from analog to digital TV (DTV) signals.

President-elect Obama and his transition team, however, have a different take on the DTV switch. The $1.34 billion USD fund that the federal government setup to provide American households with $40 DTV converter box coupons has been depleted. Because of the shortfall, there are currently 103,000 people on the waiting list to receive coupons according to USA Today.

John Podesta, Co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team fired off a letter to Congress proclaiming that the funds provided for the coupon program were "woefully inadequate" and that the DTV switch should be pushed back.

"The government's programs to assist consumers through the upheaval of the conversion are inadequately funded," said Podesta. "There is insufficient support for the problems consumers (particularly low income, rural and elderly Americans) will experience as a result of the analog signal cutoff."

Podesta added, "With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated analog cutoff date."

Podesta also noted that a portion of Obama's Economic Recovery Package has additional funds necessary to provide additional coupons to Americans who have not yet received them, however, more time is needed to get the coupons into the hands of Americans that need them.

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the February 17 cutoff date would leave 16 percent of America's nearly 115 million television households without TV service.





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