LG Electronics Inc. and Thomson SA have been selected by two TV-station trade groups to build set-top boxes designed to keep millions of analog-TV sets running after the switch to digital transmission.
The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) announced earlier in the year their decision to oversee development of a low-cost digital-to-analog converter given strong congressional interest in shutting off analog signals in 2009 or earlier.
According to the NAB, the United States has 73 million analog TVs that are not connected to pay TV services. After the switch to digital, those sets will go dark without set-top boxes.
Thomson spokesman Dave Arland said terms of the agreement were being kept confidential. He indicated that box prices likely would exceed $50 each because the NAB and MSTV have requested a few advanced features, including one called a “smart antenna interface” that would make software-driven antenna adjustments to produce the clearest picture possible.
“It’s a nice-to-have feature,” he added.