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Thomson, LG to Develop DTV Converters for Broadcasters

In June, the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), requested proposals for development of a low-cost, high-quality digital-to-analog converter that consumers could use to view DTV signals on existing analog TV sets once analog TV transmissions are turned off. Last week MSTV and NAB announced they have selected proposals LG Electronics and Thomson, SA to develop these converter boxes. MSTV and NAB evaluated proposals from more than a dozen companies before selecting LG and Thomson.

MSTV President David Donovan explained why a low-cost, high-quality converter box is important. "No viewer should be left behind when this nation converts to all-digital signals. Developing a high quality, low-cost digital-to-analog converter box ensures that all Americans will be able to receive emergency information and their favorite TV shows using existing analog television sets. We are delighted to be working with these companies, both leaders in the consumer electronics industry. This collaborative effort benefits all consumers. Also, it comports with Congressional efforts to subsidize quality converter boxes that provide an alternative for consumers that want to keep their current analog equipment."

NAB President Eddie Fritts commented, "There are 21 million homes and 73 million receivers relying exclusively on antennas to receive local television signals. Disenfranchising these viewers would present a significant problem for broadcasters, the government and consumers. This project demonstrates a willingness by both broadcasters and two of the world's leading electronics companies to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to local television signals both during and after the transition to digital."

Dr. Jong Kim, VP of research at LG Electronics, emphasized the need for performance in his comments. "As a long-time participant in the digital television transition, LG and our Zenith subsidiary look forward to working with the broadcasting industry to develop this important product, which we expect to set the performance benchmark against which others should be measured to assure consumer satisfaction with digital reception. As I testified before a Congressional committee earlier this year, this kind of product is a key to the digital TV transition."

Barb Birhbaum, director of business development for Thomson's Access Platforms and Gateways business said, "We know that Congress desires an inexpensive digital to analog converter box in order to ensure consumers are not disenfranchised when analog broadcasts cease, and we believe there will be a market for a variety of digital-to-analog conversion products. Thomson has a long history of providing top quality receiving devices and we look forward to working collaboratively with the broadcast industry to help meet Congressional expectations."