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DTV Coupon Program Running Out of Money: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer January 5, 2009

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National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is expected to run out of money to promote the Digital Television Transition. The program, which provides subsidies for households affected by the digital transition, estimated it would be able to cover 51.5 million coupons for converter boxes. However, with 44.9 million coupons already requested, analysts believe that as many as 60 million coupons may be requested before the program expires. To make matters worse, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who had been slated to take over the Commerce Committee (which runs the NTIA) under the Obama Administration, withdrew his name from consideration.

Last year's total Box Office earnings increased 2% over 2007, taking in $9.63 billion in 2008. While admissions were down 4%, Hollywood was able to increase earnings despite a lack of franchise films by increasing ticket prices. Not surprisingly, Warner Bros. Batman: The Dark Knight was the top earner in 2008, bringing in $1.77 Billion, making it the second highest grossing film of all time behind Titanic.

LG is expected to announce a line of high definition televisions with built-in Internet capabilities. The HDTV's, which are expected to run approximately $300 more than sets without Internet capabilities, also include a wireless HD box and support the DivX format commonly used to watch video on computers. LG is also expected to announce a partnership with Netflix that would bundle Netflix's streaming service inside the system.

Plus, today's consulting question, "Is the Verizon/Alltel deal ever going to close?" Shelly has the answer on today's MediaBytes.

Shelly Palmer is a consultant and the host of MediaBytes a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC and the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press). Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at shelly@palmer.net