Winegard's Howell Emphasizes DTV Education for DBS Industry

While inserting a two-year delay in the final analog cutoff, to Dec. 31, 2008--which appears increasingly likely on Capitol Hill--such legislation likely would have some negative impact in the short term, but positive results in the long term, according to Bob Howell, director of Distribution Systems/Off-Air Antenna Business Group for The Winegard Company.

Recently keynoting Satellite Expo 2005, Howell said "while the later date may affect the consumer's sense of urgency, possibly affecting sales levels for manufacturers and retailers of set-top boxes and digital TVs in the short term, I think the extra time will ultimately have a positive result. It gives everyone more time to get their plans straight and it gives us more time to educate everyone about DTV and HDTV, which, in my opinion, will ultimately accelerate interest and sales."

Howell particularly emphasized the need for educating satellite installers and an ever-changing sales force of electronic retailers on the DTV conversion--a problem that has plagued the transition since its start. "They need to know what equipment is needed, as well understand the local digital plan for their viewing area, so they can properly educate customers on what [viewer] expectations should be. Anything and everything we can do to educate everyone within the industry, and particularly the consumer, is worth the investment."

Terrestrial reception of local DTV/HD broadcasts is not only a natural supplement to satellite reception, particularly HD, Howell said, but it presents additional revenue opportunities to satellite installers, which is why Howell recommended DBS professionals keep up-to-speed on antenna installation. "With the emergence of free over-the-air digital broadcast TV," Howell said, "satellite installers can seize this opportunity to exceed their customer's expectations and to increase the dollars in their pockets at the same time...Once TV consumers get the HD bug, they're going to want all the HDTV they can get."