CEMA and NAB Get Down to Work

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Broadcasters have banded together to drive digital television and its protégé, HDTV, forward in the US. At a recent DTV summit in Dallas, 300 executives representing manufacturers, retailers, and broadcasters met to learn about DTV rollout plans, study research results, and discuss problems facing the industry.

First, attendees were treated to a demonstration of a Dallas-based high-definition facility, HDVision. Zenith Electronics Corp., Panasonic Co., and Sharp Electronics Corp., all provided product demonstrations. The event also featured a live, over-the-air HDTV broadcast from local ABC affiliate WFAA-TV. One panel focused on retail strategies to educate consumers on the importance of high-quality audio as part of the consumer DTV experience.

According to Gary Shapiro, CEMA President, "The industries represented here have come a long way together. We have a world-leading HDTV standard, a timetable for the DTV transition, consensus on definitions, and a marketing logo for the technology." Shapiro went on to state that "We are right where we should be; this will be a gradual transition, but there will be bumps in the road. That is why this summit---and continued cooperation---are so critical to our mutual success and the ability to deliver this extraordinary technology to consumers."

NAB Executive Vice President Chuck Sherman added, "We expect to have between 35 and 40 stations broadcasting digital television by the end of 1998."

According to a telephone survey of 1000 US households conducted by CEMA, DTV awareness among consumers rose from 27% last April to 58% today. Other results: The content most likely to drive DTV is sports and movies, with first "Generation X" consumers most likely to be early adopters; 70% of the consumers questioned are ready to visit retailers to see DTV demonstrations.

Shapiro said, "We should continue to work together to ensure a strong and successful launch that will carry us through the gradual and full transition to HDTV."