HDTV and DirecTV On the Cheap?

Last week, Thomson Multimedia announced what the company terms "an aggressive new effort" designed to bring HDTV within reach of more American consumers. Thomson, which manufactures and markets the RCA brand of television and video products, says it will be trimming suggested retail prices of RCA HDTV sets by 20%, effective in April.

Thomson says the move is in response to increased demand for digital HDTV and the competitive pressures of the TV manufacturing industry. The company plans to make available a fully-integrated 38-inch RCA HDTV that receives both over-the-air and DirecTV satellite digital TV signals and falls below the $3000 suggested retail price barrier. According to Thomson, "this dramatic affordability move, along with a similar suggested retail price move on the company's fully-integrated 61-inch RCA HDTV projection set, means even more consumers will be able to afford the unparalleled picture performance and home entertainment experience of high-definition TV."

Thomson says that the suggested retail price on the 61-inch RCA HDTV model will drop from a high of nearly $8000 two years ago to $3999 by April. The company adds that consumers interested in HDTV will find similar savings on 32-inch, 36-inch, and 52-inch RCA HDTV monitors. Thomson points out that it already sells the $549 RCA DTC100 digital set-top receiver, which can be used as a high-definition signal source for an HDTV monitor.

Thomson's David H. Arland explains his company's strategy: "This aggressive, affordable pricing for digital TV is being driven by three factors: first, growing consumer demand for better displays; second, the natural competitive pressures of the consumer electronics industry; and third, the explosion of crisp digital video now available on disc and via satellite. The next important step that needs to be taken in order to fuel the transition is more over-the-air programming. The success we've enjoyed in the digital TV transition will only continue if broadcasters and content providers make available a steady stream of compelling, high-definition content. Without it, the transition could stall."