Lawmakers want quick approval for nursing home TV conversion coupons

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Fifteen U.S. senators are urging the agency in charge of the nation's digital TV transition to fast-track a rule that would help nursing home residents and others who live in care homes to obtain converter boxes. The seniors were left out of an original government coupon mailing because they do not have home addresses, according to a statement from one of the lawmakers.

"Though the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is working on a rule change to include them, every day that passes is a day less that seniors have to prepare for the February 17, 2009, transition to digital," the senators' letter says. Added Sen. Herb Kohl, one of the letter signers: "For some seniors in long-term care facilities, television serves as their only link to the outside world. It is imperative that the NTIA make these government-issued coupons available to seniors no matter where they live."

An estimated 21 million Americans rely on over-the-air broadcasts (non-cable or -satellite TV) and will need a converter box. Forty percent of them are seniors, according to a joint statement issued by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).