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DTV Set Sales Ramp Up in First Half 2004

Arlington, Va. — Manufacturer-to-dealer sales of digital TV sets hit 2.8 million units during the first half of 2004, with consumer-electronics companies generating more than $2.7 billion in revenue from DTV sales, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

DTV sales during the first half were up 80% compared to the 1.5 million sets that were sold during the same period in 2003, CEA added.

HDTV sets comprise the vast majority of DTV sales, CEA said. It also predicted that one out of four televisions purchased in 2004 would be an HDTV.

Since they were introduced in 1998, CE companies have sold 11.7 million digital televisions, CEA said.

Vonage Makes VoIP A Staples Item

Edison, N.J. — Internet telephone provider Vonage Holdings Corp.cut a deal with Staples Inc. to offer its products at 1,200 stores nationwide and online at Staples.com (www.staples.com).

Under the agreement, Staples will sell Vonage starter kits at its stores, which allow broadband Internet users to make unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada for a flat monthly rate of $14.99.

Separately, Vonage also announced a deal last week with Netgear Inc. to develop broadband telephone devices that would incorporate Texas Instruments’ Internet telephone and wireless local-area network chip sets.

And AT&T’s VoIP Is a Best Buy Buy

Bedminster, N.J.AT&T Corp.said it signed a deal with Best Buy Stores Inc. that will make it one of the first retailers to offer its residential voice over Internet protocol phone service, AT&T CallVantage.

Best Buy will offer AT&T’s phone service through 627 stores nationwide and on its Web site, beginning this fall. AT&T said that both the telco and Best Buy would promote the CallVantage service through in-store marketing in addition to print, broadcast and online advertising.

CNN Teaches an Election Lesson

AtlantaCable News Network said it created an “America Votes 2004 Teaching Kit” that teachers can use to develop lesson plans related to the presidential election in November.

The kit, which is free, can be requested at CNN StudentNews (www.cnnstudentnews.com) beginning Sept. 13.

The materials address six topics: primaries and caucuses, national party conventions, political polls, presidential debates, the Electoral College and Inauguration Day.

CNN is also encouraging teachers to sign up for a daily alert on CNNStudentNews.com which will feature the days’ top story from CNN StudentNews and other education-related news. The network will also raffle off a chance to win a trip to Washington D.C. and tickets to see CNN’s Crossfire debate show.

ESPN Gets Profound In College Grid Effort

Bristol, Conn.ESPN has launched a new ad campaign for its College GameDay program.

The spots, created by Los Angeles-based ad agency Ground Zero, feature host Chris Fowler and analysts Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.

ESPN said each of the three 30-second spots “shows a college football fan braving wind and snow while climbing up an intimidating mountain on a donkey with a Sherpa guiding the way.”

After the fan asks the hosts a college football question, the three hosts “give answers in profound, sagacious riddles that leave the fan perplexed,” and the fan is then dismissed “by a monkey banging a gong,” ESPN said.

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