CTAM, CEA Team Up on HDTV

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Boston -- Cable marketers reached an agreement with the Consumer Electronics Association to team up on a project to educate consumers about the cutoff of analog broadcasting in 2009.

The agreement, announced by CEA president Gary Shapiro at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s CTAM Summit here Monday, is noteworthy, considering that Shapiro has stated previously that the quality of programming delivered by DVD players was incentive enough for consumers to buy HDTVs.

“We believe we have to educate people to make them understand what HDTV is,” Shapiro said on a panel that also included HDNet CEO Mark Cuban.

“We think HDTV is ready for primetime. It’s not just about great sets -- it’s about great programming,” Shapiro added.

Previously, Shapiro had maintained that a connection to a cable or direct-broadcast satellite programming package wasn’t necessary in order for consumers to enjoy HDTV sets, which typically cost more than $1,000 apiece.

Cuban, owner of the first U.S. networks dedicated to HDTV programming, cheered the agreement between CTAM and the CEA. “Every little bit helps,” he said. “It’s not a question of when high-definition is ubiquitous. It’s a question of when.”

Earlier at the luncheon session, Rainbow Media Holdings president Josh Sapan told audience members that video is the most valuable product in the triple-play packages sold by cable distributors.

“It’s infrequent that you would hear your kid say, ‘I got a dial-tone from my VoIP [voice over Internet protocol]. It’s fabulous.’ Or, ‘Mom, my high-speed connection is on.’ Where you would get some to say, ‘I just turned on my television set, and it’s fantastic,’” Sapan said.

Sapan spent most of his time touting Rainbow’s Voom HD Networks unit, which has had difficulty securing cable distribution, including a slot on Rainbow parent Cablevision Systems. EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network is Voom’s largest affiliate.

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