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Manufacturers, retailers want digital TV pace accelerated

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HDTV/digital television
U.S./International News
WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was implored this week to speed up digital television transition timetables.

The FCC filing from the U.S. Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition asks that the deadline for having DTV tuners in 100% of televisions screen sizes 25 to 36 inches be accelerated to March 1, 2006, thereby speeding the consumer migration to DTV.

The current DTV tuner mandate timetable calls for 50% of the TV receivers in the 25 to 36 inch screen size range to have a digital tuner by July 1, 2005. CEA and CERC are petitioning to exchange the 50% requirement for advancing the 100% requirement in this size category up from July 1, 2006 to March 1, 2006.

In their press release, the associations argue the modification will expedite the planning for and implementation of 100% incorporation of DTV tuners, in providing for a clear date for universal reliance on the DTV technology and components.

"The current 50% requirement is antithetical to the Commission's goal of building marketplace demand for broadcast DTV receivers when applied to popular, 25 to 36 inch, screen sizes," said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. "Although initially conceived as a phase-in for the benefit of manufacturers and retailers, in reality it creates uncertainty in the marketplace for each group and slows the ramping up of volume production necessary to bring costs down.

"The experience of the existing 50% requirement in the large-screen sector, in which the DTV tuner represents a much smaller percentage of product cost, has been that it has encouraged early ordering of the products whose supply is potentially limited by rule, whereas the DTV products are not potentially subject to rationing. The 50% rule runs counter to the purpose of the Commission's tuner mandate and hinders the successful transition to digital television," added Shapiro in the statement.

"CERC believes the proposed modification will eliminate the unintended consequences of the Commission's 50% requirements that became apparent only recently, but threaten to impede the DTV transition," said CERC executive director Marc Pearl. "In practice, the 50% requirement has proven to be unduly disruptive. It creates an artificial scarcity of products without tuners, providing an incentive for retailers to assure their supplies of these non-tuner products. This is the opposite result from the one sought by the Commission, and by retailers, as a matter of public policy. Accelerating the 100% obligation would eliminate that situation."
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