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Shapiro Prods Broadcasters Over DTV At NAB

4/20/2005 09:48:00 AM Eastern

Las Vegas — Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) president/CEO Gary Shapiro came to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, here, with a strong message for broadcasters, trading barbs with the association over the DTV transition.

In a speech delivered yesterday, Shapiro urged the industry to “stop pushing for regulations on other industries” and chastised them for failing to tackle the challenges and embrace the opportunities of the digital age.


 CEA Revises Downward DTV Estimates

Arlington, Va. — Despite strong sales growth in February, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) warned this week that sales of digital televisions would likely miss the association’s original forecast of 20 million units.

“For too long, broadcasters have tried to enhance or even save themselves by pushing for regulations on other industries,” Shapiro said. “Too many competitors and innovations are out there — all competing for the same eyeballs — for that approach to be successful in the long run.”

In a statement, the CEA positioned Shapiro’s comments as a response to “a misleading attack on CEA's good-faith attempt to modify the DTV tuner rollout schedule and accelerate the DTV transition.”

On Monday, NAB released a statement accusing the CEA of “delaying the DTV rollout” and “perpetrating a fraud” on consumers by selling analog televisions that will “soon be obsolete.”

“CEA member companies continue to sell millions of analog TV sets every year, while refusing to tell consumers that these sets will soon be obsolete or need converters to work in the digital era," said Eddie Fritts, NAB’s president.

CEA is requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advance the deadline for manufacturers to include digital tuners in all televisions with screens sized 25 inches to 36 inches from July 1, 2006, to March 1, 2006. CEA is also asking the FCC to eliminate the July 1, 2005, deadline that requires 50 percent of sets offered for sale in this size range include a digital tuner.

NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television filled a comment with the FCC on Monday, asking the Commission to reject CEA's proposal in favor of moving up the requirement that 100 percent of TV sets shipped after July 1, 2006, have DTV tuners.

“CEA opposed the tuner mandate because so few Americans — less than 15 percent — rely on antennas to receive a television signal for the primary TVs in their homes,” Shapiro said. “We accept the fact that the mandate is now law, but our proposal would accelerate the DTV transition as the 50 percent requirement has not worked. Consumers are not demanding tuner-equipped sets. The FCC cannot order consumers and retailers to buy products.”

Shapiro gave broadcasters a four-point plan to “win back share and help save their industry”: promote free over-the-air broadcasting, shift to HDTV quickly and promote DTV on analog channels, support a hard cut-off date for analog broadcasts, and defend the First Amendment.

Despite the public tit-for-tat over the DTV transition, NAB’s department of science and technology honored the CEA’s technology and standards department for work conducted over the years on standards and projects for broadcast services.

The award was accepted by Shapiro who hailed a “long and distinguished history of cooperation [with NAB] on technical standards. Despite headline-grabbing differences, “the truth is that together, we have changed the world,” Shapiro said.