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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.

CEA is now projecting DTV sales to dealers will hit 15 million in 2005. Even with this negative revision, CEA expects full-year 2005 DTV sales to more than double the 2004 total of 7.3 million units.

According to the association, the initial projection “overstated the full-year effect of the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) DTV tuner mandate and was based in part on what proved to be false assumptions that the cable and broadcast industries would support specific actions necessary to achieve aggressive sales growth in 2005.”

February DTV sales to dealers were brisk, growing 43 percent over the same month last year, CEA noted. February sales reached 342,060 units on dollar sales of $443 million. Year-to-date unit sales are up 14 percent over the first two months of 2004, and full year 2005 sales are expected to more than double the final 2004 total of 7.3 million units.

CEA also announced that total February 2005 sales of DTV products including monitors displays and integrated sets reached 498,554 units on dollar sales of $699.4 million, a 29 percent increase over combined sales in February 2004

In a statement announcing the figures, CEA’s president/CEO Gary Shapiro fingered the broadcast and cable industries for “throwing up roadblocks” in the transition to digital.

“The broadcast industry is opposing the establishment of a date-certain end to analog television broadcasts while the cable industry refuses to support and promote digital-cable-ready products. We see both of these as critical and necessary steps in order to reach 20 million unit sales this year and help ensure rapid consumer adoption of DTV,” Shapiro said.

CEA is requesting the 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. In exchange, the association is 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.