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Mitsubishi Okays Tuner Mandate

Dallas – Mitsubishi used its dealer show here to announce a reversal on two previous hard-line positions, and a reorganization of field sales efforts.

Mitsubishi marketing VP Bob Perry said that with fully integrated HDTV sets representing over 50 percent of the company’s CRT rear-projection product line, the company has officially changed its objection to the Federal Communications Commission’s DTV tuner mandate.

He pointed to the nearly completed FCC adoption of the cable plug-and-play agreement as the determining factor. Perry said that without a national cable standard, consumers would have been forced to purchase an expensive over-the-air DTV tuner that would have no value for 65 to 70 percent of consumers who subscribe to cable.

‘Given recent comments by the FCC that they are going to push [the plug-and-play agreement] through, and that it will become a regulation, it will become a mandate for cable compatibility quite quickly, we’ve decided to announce that we do now support the FCC’s digital mandate,’ Perry said.

In addition, he said that because the digital cable agreement appears to be nearing government adoption, Mitsubishi has ended its moratorium on the use of Digital Visual Interface (DVI-HDCP) inputs, and is including them on most models in the 2003-04 line.

The company’s new MonitorLink connection, available on all new Mitsubishi HD-monitors, uses both a DVI-HDCP connector and an RS-232 control to enable displays connected to the new HD-5000 set-top box to operate like Mitsubishi’s fully integrated HDTV sets.

Perry said Mitsubishi’s chief concern with DVI was that it would have enabled content producers and program distributors to restrict programming to some early HDTV adopters through selectable output controls. That has been prohibited under the pending cable agreement.

Meanwhile, Max Wasinger, Mitsubishi sales and marketing senior VP, said the company would continue to offer a segregated class of products for its various distribution channels. He added that new flat panel televisions will not be open to the national chains such as Best Buy, although that chain’s merchandising mix will be expanded with more HDTV upgradable CRTs this year.

‘We believe in right products for right dealers,’ Wasinger said. ‘The Mitsubishi Line, the Medallion Line and the Diamond Lines are specifically designed for the needs of national retailers, TV/appliance dealers and specialty audio/video retailers.’

Wasinger said that the company doubled the number of specialists in its field sales team last year to enhance its merchandising and sales training support and enhance its ‘value-add proposition’ to customers.

As part of that effort this year, Mitsubishi will expand its field sales team from two to three regions, adding a central region to the previous east and west regions.

This will enable the company ‘to get our regional sales management close to the customers,’ Wasinger said.