CEA Snubs Powell DTV Plan

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Citing consumer-cost burdens, the Consumer Electronics Association has
snubbed a key component of a digital-television-transition plan advocated by
Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell three months ago.

In April, Powell urged manufacturers to ensure that the vast majority of new
TV sets come equipped with off-air digital-TV tuners by Dec. 31, 2006.

CEA president Gary Shapiro said Friday that the digital-TV-tuner mandate
would run up the per-unit price due to a government mandate that would disrupt
market forces that appear to be working.

'It would not serve consumers to require every digital- and
analog-television-set buyer to pay up to $400 for the over-the-air reception
that the overwhelming majority of Americans don't need, use or want,' Shapiro
said in a prepared statement.

Powell's plan called on digital-TV-set makers, broadcasters, satellite
carriers and cable operators to cooperate and try to accelerate the slow-moving
transition. Only the CEA raised pointed objections to Powell's plan.

'The CE [consumer-electronics] industry's response on DTV tuners is so
limited and loaded down with so many conditions that I believe it amounts to no
commitment at all,' Powell said in a prepared statement Friday.

Powell indicated displeasure with Shapiro's recommendation that the FCC
should shift its focus from digital-TV tuners to an effort ensuring that
digital-TV sets work with digital-cable systems on a 'plug-and-play' basis.

'I hope that the CE industry will reconsider its position and join with its
industry colleagues in the effort to make progress today while we continue to
work on issues that will take longer to resolve,' Powell
added.

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