By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A group of hardy Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) execs battled the stifling New York City heat and came to TWICE on Tuesday afternoon to catch up with our editorial staff as a group for the first time since January’s edition of International CES, and the conversation turned to key issues CEA is focused on in Washington.
CEA is in town this week for CE Week and the CEA Line Shows events, which are taking place through Friday.
Jeff Joseph, communications and strategic relationships senior VP, organized the meeting and brought along Tara Dunion, communications senior director; Cindy Stevens, publications senior director; Samantha Nevels, policy communications coordinator … as well as Gary Shapiro, CEO and president.
Shapiro, who saw a roomful of TWICE editors in attendance, took advantage of the opportunity to outline four issues CEA is concerned about.
“Legislation is pending on the issue of patent trolls,” with several bills circulating in the House and Senate, which CEA is backing. He reminded us that while manufacturers get hurt with these frivolous lawsuits, “retailers have also been hurt with suits against their online operations.”
He complimented President Obama for his support, and Shapiro said he hopes legislation will be passed in the second half.
The same is true for the immigration bills that are winding their way through Congress. CEA and Shapiro have long backed immigration reform, and Shapiro has long argued that foreign students who earn engineering degrees here and want to start tech businesses, or join industry firms, should be able to gain the right to do so instead of taking their considerable training and expertise and return home.
Shapiro noted that Congress needs to approve Internet sales-tax legislation, which he reiterated will “level the playing field between brick-and-mortar” and online retailers.
And Shapiro said that the spectrum crunch, if not solved soon, will stifle further CE innovation and device functionality. He noted that the TV broadcasters that are no longer using their analog spectrum are stalling to give back that free spectrum and lobbying Congress against it. That was something broadcasters agreed to in the digital-TV transition.
“Having enough broadband ... is the lifeblood of the industry. If we don’t have enough, everyone — manufacturers, retailers and consumers — will be hurt.”
If you agree on one or more of these key issues visit CE.org for more info on how you can support CEA’s efforts.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.