Philips and Victor to exit TV business

It’s a brutal time to be in the television set business. In the last few days, Philips said it officially pulling out of the U.S. market, and is licensing its brand name for TVs to a company called Funai — best known for supplying Wal-Mart’s Black Friday TVs and DVD players. A few days later reports circulated that Victor of Japan will also reshape its money-losing TV business.

While Victor spokesman Toshiya Ogata declined to comment on a report last week that said his company will stop making and selling its flat-panel, LCD TVs in Japan, he acknowledged such steps are under consideration. Victor, Japan’s sixth biggest flat-panel maker, would be the first major Japanese manufacturer to drop out of the Japanese TV market.

Philips will take charges of up to EUR 125 million in the deal. Funai will assume responsibility for the sourcing, distribution, marketing and sales of all Philips’ consumer television activities in the United States and Canada.

Other Philips consumer business categories in North America are not affected by the agreement and will continue to be manufactured, marketed and sold by Philips. Philips’ television position in the rest of the world is also unaffected by this partnership with Funai.

A report said that Victor, also known as JVC, will continue to make and sell TVs for the North American, European and other overseas markets. The company, the report said, has been struggling to stay competitive as rapid price drops make survival more difficult for flat-panel TV makers.

Last week, Victor forecasted it would lose $470.5 million for the fiscal year, which ended March 31. That’s worse than the $319.9 million loss it had forecast in January. Much of the red ink comes from its troubled TV operations.

Last month, Pioneer said it will stop making plasma display panels and possibly start buying them from Japanese rival Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic products. Earlier this year, Sony said it will invest in a Sharp plant for making LCDs to ensure supply of the panels.

In December, Matsushita, Hitachi and Canon announced a tie-up in their LCD businesses. Their announcement came shortly after Toshiba said it would buy panels from Sharp.