CEMA Replies on Compatibility


Washington -- In an attempt to clear up misunderstandings
centering on cable's role in the early rollout of high-definition television, the
Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association last week sent a seven-page response to
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

In a July 15 letter, McCain had asked the CEMA to explain
conflicting information that the Senate Commerce Committee had been given regarding
compatibility between cable set-tops and first-generation digital televisions.

In his response, CEMA president Gary Shapiro admitted that
the first digital-TV receivers, to be introduced this fall, will likely not contain the
IEEE 1394, or "fire-wire," digital interface, since important elements of the
standard are not yet finalized.

"In the absence of a 1394 port," the letter
continued, "first-generation HDTV receivers will still contain component [video]
inputs capable of receiving HDTV signals."

The letter went on to say that the CEMA will make efforts
to ensure that all consumers are aware of "both the capabilities and the limitations
of first-generation DTV receivers."

Shapiro contended that early adopters "are willing to
accept certain limitations in order to be the very first to buy the product."

Others have countered that the first customers for HDTV
products are likely to be the heaviest users of premium-television services, such as cable
and direct-broadcast satellite.