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Firm Discovers Clash Over DTV Tuner Phase-in

An Oyster Bay, New York research firm made a shocking observation of the television lobby/regulator fold this week - that there is disagreement over the DTV tuner mandate!

ABI Research identified the players as follows:

"The protagonists are the consumer electronics and cable industries, represented publicly by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); the broadcasters, represented by the NAB; the FCC itself; and consumers, whose best interests all parties claim to promote. The parties differ not only on the interpretation of market data, but also on the facts themselves."

ABI went on to describe the FCC's agenda as "the simplest," i.e., "to push the transition to a fully digital TV environment, free up analog spectrum for other uses, and `save' the television industry."

In an amazing display of razor-sharp, investigative analysis, ABI said in a release issued over Business Wire that, "the FCC has pressured TV station heads, broadcasters and CE vendors to do their part. Broadcasters are generally in favor, seeing opportunities for new services and higher ad revenues, although they will have to spend a lot of money to reap the benefits. The CEA is generally critical of any such move that encourages free-to-air competitors. The cable industry, on the other hand, has successfully persuaded the CE industry to agree on one-way digital interoperability and is hoping to use cable's plug-and-play convenience to compete more effectively against DBS and others. Both these parties are working towards two-way interoperability.

"Disputed variables include the final additional cost of the tuners and whether the added revenues will cover the cost of digital broadcasting conversion."

ABI concluded with the extraordinary prediction that in the near future, many households would own several TVs and use different technologies and service providers, and that "whoever comes up with the optimum package to serve such consumers is going to be the winner."