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NAB, CEA Part Ways on DTV Campaign

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has backed out of its joint "DTV Zone" public education campaign with the NAB because of disagreements over funding the program.

Announced over a year ago, the joint campaign was designed to educate consumers on the DTV transition. The ongoing campaign acquired its own logo ("DTV: It's Like Being There") and was rolled out in several cities (dubbed "DTV Zones"), including Portland, Ore., Houston, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. Future zones include Norfolk, VA and Cincinnati.

An integral part of the campaign is the airing of DTV promotional spots, which have run in 30 cities, including the DTV zones. In exchange for broadcasters giving up the free time for those spots, manufacturers were expected to pick up the slack and buy more airtime to make up for the lost revenues. But that was never set in stone, according to a source at CEA, who said such an agreement would have been impossible to achieve from the manufacturers.

When the hoped-for makeup ads never materialized, cooperation over the joint campaign deteriorated and the two organizations have not discussed the campaign since last summer. CEA claims that their members donated 70-100 HDTV sets during the campaign.

The cooperation in the campaign "ran its course," according to NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "There was some expectation [from broadcasters], and we didn't get the followthrough from some of the CEA folks as expected. That in no way means that NAB is going to diminish our efforts to educate consumers on the value of DTV."

Wharton singled out Zenith as providing "outstanding" support to the campaign. More information on the campaign can be found at

CEA is doing its own promotional campaign including "DTV Update" seminars in eight markets this year and plans to visit six new markets in the first half of 2003. In addition, a monthly newsletter will be distributed and individual "watch parties" timed with particular events being broadcast in HD will be held.