Powell: CEA a DTV Holdout


Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell pointed a finger at
the consumer-electronics industry for failing to endorse his April plan to give
some spark to the digital-television transition.

'The missing piece of the DTV puzzle is the consumer-electronics industry,'
Powell said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Powell asked TV-set makers to build units with digital tuners in a phased-in
approach so that by Dec. 31, 2006, all new TV sets larger than 13 inches would
have digital-TV tuners.

'We have not yet received a final response from the manufacturers on the
phased-in inclusion of DTV tuners in the new sets,' Powell said. 'I hope they
will join their industry colleagues and come forward with real and tangible
commitments to advance the transition.'

The Consumer Electronics Association was expected to file a letter with
Powell this week. At first, the CEA rejected the tuner proposal out of hand, but
it retreated from that position a few days later.

In the FCC letter, the CEA is expected to say that the tuner proposal is not
necessary because market forces will determine consumer demand for
tuner-equipped digital-TV sets. The CEA argued that the key to the transition is
compatibility between digital-cable systems and digital-TV sets.

However, some key CEA members -- including Thomson Consumer Electronics,
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc. and Zenith Electronics Corp. -- are
expected to embrace Powell's tuner proposal on their own.