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Success of Digital TV Transition Hinges on Consumer Education

CEA’s Shapiro Speaks at the Media Institute

The First Amendment is the cornerstone for the right to innovate and becoming increasingly important as the U.S. approaches the end of analog broadcasts, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a speech today before the Media Institute in Washington, D.C. Shapiro discussed recent successes in the transition to digital television (DTV) and addressed potential challenges and attempts to thwart innovation.

“We are doing well. By the end of 2007, more than 50 percent of American households owned a digital television,” Shapiro said. “And consumers are increasingly aware of the transition and what, if anything, they need to do in order to continue enjoying free, over-the-air television.”

Citing successful partnerships with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), Shapiro noted, “Our industry and government partnerships on consumer education are successful. We all joined together to found the DTV Transition Coalition which has brought together more than 200 diverse groups, all with the mission to educate consumers.”

Industry education campaigns experienced tremendous success in 2007, Shapiro said, with 74 percent of consumers familiar with the upcoming 2009 DTV transition, a jump from 41 percent in 2006. However, Shapiro noted potential road blocks on the path to a successful transition, including a recent petition from the Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) that would significantly disrupt the transition and the NTIA DTV converter box coupon program.

“CBA has entirely overlooked the fact that several of the current certified converter boxes offer an analog pass-through feature. This option allows those Americans served by low-power and translator stations to receive both digital and analog signals now and after the transition,” Shapiro said.

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Shapiro urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny CBA’s petition and called on CBA to begin educational campaigns to reach their consumers – much like CEA, NAB, NCTA and others have successfully done.

“The marketplace is working. The transition is working,” said Shapiro. “We are 355 days away from a vital milestone in our digital destiny.”

A complete transcript of today’s speech will be available online at http://www.CE.org.

About CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services.

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