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Best Buy Exits Analog TV

10/17/2007 12:27:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis, Minn. – Best Buy stopped selling analog TVs effective Oct. 1 and will participate in the federal converter box coupon program as part of its DTV transition strategy.

The company said it pulled all remaining analog TVs from store shelves and instructed stores to stop selling the sets by the first of the month. The chain claims to be the first CE retailer to publicly announce an exit from the analog video business, although it will continue to support analog TVs owners by carrying coupon-eligible converter boxes beginning early next year under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s voluntary National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) DTV Converter Box Coupon Program.

Mike Vitelli, Best Buy’s electronics senior VP, told TWICE that an exact date for the rollout of the boxes in stores is still being determined, based on the availability of the converters and the coupons, and on Best Buy’s ability to integrate both into its point-of-sale (POS) system.

“We are committed to helping people understand the digital television transition, and exiting the analog video business is one way we can help avoid confusion,” said Mike Vitelli, Best Buy’s electronics senior VP. “Customers can now be sure that any television they purchase at Best Buy will be fully compliant with the digital television transition. And for customers who aren’t in the market for a new television, we can help you find the best solution to meet your needs.”

Best Buy has been educating consumers about the DTV transition since early 2006 by providing in-store brochures and detailed information online at BestBuy.com. The company’s home theater specialists have also been trained to answer questions and help customers prepare for the changeover on February 17, 2009. The education efforts will continue to grow through the remainder of 2007 through the transition date, the company said.

Best Buy will also provide recycling options for consumers choosing to replace their analog sets with a new digital TV.

No. 2 specialty CE chain Circuit City said it also intends to participate in the tuner box coupon program pending the resolution of “a number of technical and regulatory questions,” and will enhance its “already robust efforts” to assist consumers with the transition.

In a statement, Circuit City chairman/CEO Phil Schoonover said “TV is our most important business. We know the DTV transition will affect millions of homes that rely on over-the-air reception and we are ready to do our part, along with manufacturers, broadcasters and regulators, to inform and educate the public about this important technology advance.”

Schoonover said that Circuit City has played a key role in helping to advance educational initiatives through its membership in the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC), and will mount additional efforts on its own. “As strong as our current program is, we recognize that the DTV transition will represent a revolutionary change for many Americans, so we’re moving ahead with plans that we have been developing to intensify our activities to help in an industry- wide educational effort.” Those include in-store pamphlets; advisories within circulars; informational messages on in-store monitors; online information; and additional training for store personnel.

Some of the steps already in place while others will be phased in during the coming months, the company said.

Under the DTV Converter Box Coupon Program, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2008, U.S. households can request up to two electronic coupons, at a value of $40 each, that can be used at participating retailers toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. Best Buy said it will begin to stock and sell coupon-eligible DTV converter boxes and accept NTIA coupons beginning early next year.

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