CEMA Head Slams TCIs HDTV Plan


Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association president
Gary Shapiro last week criticized Tele-Communications Inc. for its proposed plans to
deliver digital set-top boxes that don't transmit what CEMA defines as true
high-definition signals.

Speaking during a panel on HDTV at the National Association
of Television Program Executives conference in New Orleans last Thursday, Shapiro said,
'This highlights the importance of the FCC's [Federal Communications Commission]
upcoming must-carry proceeding. The FCC must ensure that if broadcasters transmit
programming in high-definition, cable companies are required to pass the programming
through to the consumer in the same manner.'

TCI was not represented on the panel, but Cox
Communications Inc. -- which, Shapiro said, is more willing to invest in technological
quality -- was present.

There's no clear consensus today on the level of
signal quality that broadcasters will deliver when they migrate to digital television. The
indecision makes it harder for consumer-electronics manufacturers to design digital
television receivers and set-top boxes.

Many companies plan to include technology that would
deliver digital pictures in a variety of scanning formats. CEMA considers the 1080
interlace format true HDTV.

TCI, on the other hand, plans to downconvert such signals
to a lower-resolution format called 480 progressive, which has been backed by Bill Gates,
chairman of Microsoft Corp.

Ironically, Shapiro praised Microsoft just a few weeks ago.
While introducing Gates to a standing-room-only crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas, Shapiro said, 'The price of greatness is controversy, and Microsoft pays
the price.'

Gates went on to demonstrate a big-screen picture in 480-P
during his presentation, where he announced his recent deal with TCI.