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Consumer electronics, broadcast industries must manage change

Addressing the Advanced Television Systems Committee last week, Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) president David Donovan called for the television and consumer electronics industries to “develop a process” to manage improvement and change “in an orderly fashion.”

According to the MSTV president, unlike private subscription systems that can exert control over “design, manufacture and distribution” of receivers, broadcasting relies on a standards-based system to ensure an open architecture that guarantees nationwide receiver compatibility.

However, that open approach is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows multiple consumer electronics manufacturers to compete in the marketplace — not just one or two — to the benefit of the public. It also can be the source of concern for consumer electronics manufacturers wishing to protect owners of legacy equipment.

Many broadcasters “seek to move forward with features and technologies through the standards-setting process,” he said. Many consumer electronics makers seek advancement as well but “chafe at the thought of including new features in receiving devices.”

So important is the resolution of the tension that the future of free television service depends on developing a system of managing change, he said. “The stakes are too high for both industries,” said Donovan.

Donovan also used the occasion to lay out the case against modifying FCC rules that will require 50 percent of the sets that are 25in to 36in sold in the United States to have ATSC tuners by July 2005. The consumer electronics industry has recently proposed modifying those rules.

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