Q&A: CEA President/CEO Gary Shapiro

December 12, 2007
Gary Shapiro is the longtime president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, the major lobby group for the consumer electronics industry and host of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Next month’s International CES 2008 will be held Jan. 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Shapiro spoke this week with HD Notebook.

HD Notebook: What will the CEA be looking for this holiday season as a way to judge how the DTV transition, and HD in particular, may be going—especially in this question-mark economy?

Shapiro: Continued growth and sales in this category—over 30 million DTVs are expected to be sold in 2007—leaves me sure that DTV continues to be a success. In a recent holiday study conducted by CEA, we found that big-screen televisions, predominantly HD, landed third on adult ‘wish list’ items, beating out both clothes and money.

Everyone is pitching in to educate consumers. The FCC has hosted monthly DTV Education Days. Broadcasters and cable are running various television spots, ensuring that consumers are seeing and hearing about the upcoming transition. And the DTV Transition Coalition Web site, www.dtvtransition.org with the mission to ensure no consumer is left uninformed about the switch to all-digital broadcasting, received nearly 65,000 visits in November.

HD Notebook: What type of presence will HD technology and new products enjoy at next month’s CES, compared to previous shows?

Shapiro: HD will be omnipresent at the International CES. You’ll see bigger sizes, faster refresh rates, more connectivity options, and thinner displays.

And HD will drive many new technologies. Manufacturers know consumers do not want to settle for less than high-def quality and will showcase higher resolution capabilities and HD output options on digital cameras, gaming consoles and next-generation DVD players. HD is proving to be so much more than a ‘television,’ [but] rather an entertainment hub. At the International CES, the HD revolution will take center stage.

HD Notebook: Do you see an end in sight in the war between Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD? Are your retail members hoping for a quick end to the war, or are they not focused on it?

Shapiro: I continue to be thrilled with the many options available in this new space. I don’t see this as a ‘war’ but two technologies with different capabilities and various benefits for the consumer. Much like LCD and plasma, these two formats can co-exist for some time in the same marketplace.

HD Notebook: Thanks for your time, Gary.

Editor’s Note: Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) this week released a report by the Government Accountability Office on the DTV transition. The report, in part, concludes there is not sufficient coordination among various government agencies on the DTV transition, and that more federal funding should be earmarked to inform consumers of the switch in February 2009. In response to the GAO report, the CEA said, in part:

“The DTV transition is on schedule and is working. Successfully transitioning the nation to digital television requires the government and private sector to work cooperatively to educate consumers, and we are encouraged by GAO’s finding that the ‘FCC and NTIA, along with industry and other private sector stakeholders, have made progress in educating consumers about the DTV transition.’”

Receive regular news and technology updates.
Sign up for our free newsletter here.