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CEA Questions Need for Luxury Digital Converters
Oct 13, 2005
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The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) filed comments in response to the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.

In its comments, CEA raised concerns about whether the digital-to-analog converter box being developed under the direction of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) would fulfill Congress's desire to have a low-cost converter box for consumers.

In its comments, CEA says it is puzzled by the need for the broadcaster converter box program, since no manufacturer involved in the digital transition has suggested any problem with creating a simple analog-to-digital converter box. Many companies have announced plans to build low-cost converter boxes that will enable consumers with an analog-only television to continue to receive over-the-air (OTA) television signals once analog TV broadcasts end.

In addition, CEA notes that the converter box that NAB and MSTV envision includes many additional features that most consumers do not need or want, making more expensive than the standard converter box that will be desired by most of the consumers who choose to utilize their analog TVs upon the end of analog broadcasts.

"While the CE industry will produce a simple, low-cost converter box that is accessible to those OTA households who need one, we must remain realistic about the features and functionalities that can be included, while achieving Congress's ultimate goal of affordability. Consumer expectation and demand for a simple, inexpensive product cannot be ignored," stated CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro.

In its filing, CEA noted that its research shows that currently only 32.7 million (or 11.5 percent) of the 285 million television sets used in the U.S. are used to view OTA television programming. By 2009, CEA estimates that the percentage of U.S. homes receiving their primary television OTA will be closer to 6.8 percent.

"American consumers now have more ways to receive video programming than ever before," said Shapiro. "Consumer electronics equipment manufacturers, cable operators, terrestrial broadcasters satellite broadcasters and home media now are at the center of the market for the delivery of video programming, but consumers soon will have these services available via telephone, mobile, wireless broadband, and even power lines."

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