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News Flash: Broadcaster Promotes Over-the-Air DTV!

DTV sets are going for $219 at Bernie's stores in Providence, R.I.--because Bernie's and Providence-based LIN TV struck a deal to co-market digital over-the-air television.

Gary Chapman, chief executive of LIN TV, said the $219 package includes a small ATSC-equipped Samsung set and one of several models of indoor antennas. He discussed the arrangement while participating as a panelist at the MSTV conference in Washington, D.C.

Bernie's is absorbing the cost of the discounted sets and displaying OTA digital TV in its three Providence stores in exchange for promos on LIN's two stations in the market -- WPRI Channel 12 (CBS), and WNAC, Channel 64 (Fox). The marketing campaign was launched about a month ago, and will continue through the Super Bowl, Chapman said.

He also said that 70 percent of Bernie's DTV sales last year occurred between the opening game of the New England Patriots and the Super Bowl, and that Bernie's had sold more DTV sets in Providence "than any other store." Chapman said LIN is negotiating similar arrangements with retailers in other markets.

Broadcasters long have been criticized for not marketing OTA digital television, while they contend that their overtures to partner with big-box retailers have been rebuffed. Another panelist, CBS Television Executive Vice President Marty Franks, said he's been "working on major retailers for six years. I haven't been able to get a single one of [them] to sign up."

Responding to a question about why over-the-air HD broadcast programming is not being shown on the retail floor, Franks said that Best Buy and Circuit City don't want to see the others' ads run in their own stores. Marc Pearl, executive director of the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition said as much later in the conference during another panel.