Proposed Broadcast R&D Center hindered by lack of CEA funding

Although various press statements indicated otherwise, the CEA said it would not help fund a new R&D lab proposed by the Association for Maximum TV Service (MSTV) earlier this year. The lab was envisioned as a place to objectively test and develop new transmission and receiver technologies that would help move the digital transition forward, but without adequate funding the idea appears doomed.

That leaves proponents of the lab, which has yet to determine a location, with a $2 million commitment (per year for three years) from the NAB, which is contingent on finding an equal amount from another funding source.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said “if individual consumer electronics companies were to demonstrate a serious financial commitment to this effort, then we would move forward as well, but we’re still waiting for them to surface.”

No timetable has been established for the lab. MSTV President David Donavan and senior vice president Victor Tawill set the plans in motion. They went before the NAB board in January and proposed setting up a new facility that would provide third party testing of emerging television technologies. The idea was immediately criticized. However, those who had supported the ATTC facility in Washington D.C. performed similar functions in the early days of the move to digital television broadcasting. The ATTC lab was shut down for lack of funding.

“It’s obviously disappointing to us that the CEA is not willing to put some skin into the game,” the NAB’s Wharton said. “But it’s not the first time this has happened.”

Wharton was referring to the floundering DTV marketing campaign that was introduced at last year’s NAB convention. It was then that the CEA and the NAB jointly announced a comprehensive print, radio and TV marketing campaign designed to evangelize over-the-air terrestrial digital television in local markets across the country. Wharton said that no financial support has materialized from the CEA thus far, although the campaign did kick off in a few cities.

Several individual consumer electronics companies, such as Mitsubishi and Zenith, have provided finances to fund various DTV marketing efforts, Wharton acknowledged.

A CEA spokesperson said about the MSTV-proposed R&D lab, “Our policy all along has been that this support would have to come from the individual member companies themselves. We don’t tell them what to do, it’s up to them to decide.”

MSTV did not return calls for comment.

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