Rattled by the recession, many consumers facing the upcoming switch to digital television are taking the cheap way out -- buying inexpensive converter boxes instead of new digital TV sets. But now, amid higher demand, the government is running out of money to subsidize the purchase of the converters.
As of Monday, consumers who request the $40 government coupons are being put on a waiting list, Commerce Department officials said. The coupons help pay for set-top digital converter boxes that allow older TVs to receive digital signals. The department is also warning consumers that some stores may not have enough converter boxes to meet demand. Consumers requested about 7.2 million coupons in December, far higher than the 4.3 million the administration had forecast.