"On Feb. 18, there will be a tremendous amount of finger-pointing," media analyst Richard Doherty tells The New York Times.
As the transmission of television signals over the air moves to a digital format, those foil-wrapped TV antennas will be useless and many Americans will be caught off guard.
More from the Times:
According to surveys conducted by the Consumers Union, a consumer advocacy group that also publishes Consumer Reports magazine, while 90 percent of the nation is aware of the transition, 25 percent mistakenly believe that one must subscribe to cable or satellite after February, and 41 percent think that every TV in a house must have a new converter box, even those that are already connected to cable or satellite.
To help reduce the expense of acquiring the converter boxes, which cost about $50 for basic models, consumers can get two government rebate vouchers worth $40 a box.
About 40 million coupons have been requested, but to date 16 million have been redeemed, compared with an estimated 35 million televisions that will lose a signal. Adding to the problem: people who obtained coupons early this year, but never redeemed them, have discovered that they expire after 90 days. They are not allowed to reapply for vouchers (though they could use someone else's coupon).
...With time running short, the government is now urging Americans to request a coupon by the end of the year, assuming that it will take about six weeks to receive the coupon, buy a box and reconfigure the antenna to find the digital signals.
To apply for a converter box voucher, click here or call 888-388-2009. And you can sign up a relative or friend, too — might make for a nice (free!) holiday gift.