Analog users still have a few months to convert to digital, and the government — and supermarkets — are willing to help.
The Federal Communications Commission currently requires that full-power television stations cease analog broadcasting and convert to digital by midnight on Feb. 17, 2009.
Since many consumers wish to use analog-only televisions that are not connected to cable or satellite service, the federal government authorized a rebate of $40 toward the purchase of a digital converter box.
Many supermarket chains are capitalizing on this program, which presents an easy and convenient solution for its customers.
“We are actually selling the converter boxes,” said Terry Cerwick, senior category manager, non-edibles, Bi-Lo, Greenville, S.C. “We see it as not so much a money-making opportunity as a convenience for our customers, and giving them a location to go to if they happen to have a TV that they need to convert.”
He also noted that his company will be selling the boxes through the year and will also be equipped to redeem the government rebate.
“This year, I don't think it is so much about the iPods as it is about the digital converter boxes,” said Lanny Hoffmeyer, corporate director, hardlines, photo and lobby, center store merchandising, at GM/HBC, Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn.
For people looking to redeem their rebate, the local supermarket is a logical destination, since converter boxes are “a new business. Nobody owns it, so we have a chance to jump in quickly,” he said.
Converter boxes are a short-term play, according to retail electronics expert Bob Richardson, founder and chief executive officer of Associates Interactive, Buffalo, N.Y., which works with retailers and manufacturers to encourage sales growth. And the local supermarket, he added, will have a special opportunity just before — and after — the conversion date.
“When the conversion happens in February, there will be a few people who miss it and will be desperate to find something quickly,” he said.