Broadcast Lobbies Partner with Box Makers

The Association for Maximum Service Television, or MSTV, and the National Association of Broadcasters NAB have selected two consumer electronics powerhouses to help develop digital-to-analog television converters. The two broadcast lobbies tapped Thomson and LG Electronics for the converter project. The organ
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The Association for Maximum Service Television, or MSTV, and the National Association of Broadcasters NAB have selected two consumer electronics powerhouses to help develop digital-to-analog television converters.

The two broadcast lobbies tapped Thomson and LG Electronics for the converter project. The organizations issued a Request for Quotes on the project in June in an effort to establish an expected performance standard. A dozen companies made submissions; Thomson and LG presented the closest thing to a finished product the lobbies were looking for.

Dave Arland, vice president of government relations for Thomson, said the same team that's been making DirecTV receivers would be working on the D-to-A converters. MSTV and NAB are looking for several features in addition to what is already available in standalone OTA digital TV receivers, namely, a smart antenna interface. Other sought-after features include simple navigation, remote control compatibility and low cost.

LG recently demonstrated a small D-to-A converter on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are grappling with whether or not to provide a subsidy for consumers to buy them when analog signals go dark. The co-development agreement neither enjoins other manufacturers from making their own converters, nor does it have any relationship to the potential subsidy from Capitol Hill. It is simply an effort on the part of the broadcast groups to establish quality control in a finite market.

Dave Donovan, president of MSTV, said it's imperative that the converters work right from the get-go, since there will be no subsequent generations of the product should analog TVs disappear from the market as planned.

"This is a one-time shot," he said. "It's a unique market."