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I had planned on bringing you the details of the new Mitsubishi line tonight but this story (see below) broke today. It is important enough to preempt the product discussions. I am working on an expanded version of the CEA press release and will post it on our site tomorrow. The reason that this story is important is not because the consumer electronics industry cannot meet the regulatory demands, but the trade offs for doing so can backfire in several ways. First, the people needing these final transition boxes may well be unhappy with the performance from lower power schemes. Secondly, the clock is ticking. It is hard to redesign and bring to market in time to accommodate the February 17, 2009 deadline--the date which ends all analog broadcasting. So, tomorrow, all things willing, I will bring you both my comments and research done on this story and a discussion of the products from the Mitsubishi line show. _Dale Cripps


Mandate Will Do Little to Conserve Energy

Arlington, Va., April 11, 2006 - The following statement was issued today by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®) President and CEO Gary Shapiro and National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO David K. Rehr regarding the California Energy Commission's (CEC) mandatory regulation for digital television (DTV) adapters. The Commission is expected to respond this week to public comments requesting the Commission rescind the regulation.
"We strongly urge the CEC to withdraw the energy regulation for digital television adapters. These converters are necessary for existing analog televisions to receive the new digital and high-definition television signals by antenna. This regulation would likely raise the cost and limit the availability of these products, potentially leaving millions of Californians on the wrong side of the digital divide.

"The CEC has acted prematurely, setting energy standards for a product that is not yet on the market. The federal government is preparing to announce a $1 billion program to help American families purchase these converters so they can continue to receive television over-the-air once the nation shifts to DTV - including the millions of Californians who rely solely on over-the-air television reception. By mandating energy consumption specifications for these products before government and industry have the opportunity to define what types of converter boxes will be eligible for the subsidy, the CEC's regulation jeopardizes the ability of Californians to participate in this program in a meaningful way. The regulations could force the boxes eligible for sale in California to come at a premium price, reducing the value of the subsidy.

"Alarmingly, the CEC has promulgated this regulation on false facts and assumptions concerning DTV converters. For example, the CEC concluded that 46,000 digital television converters are in use throughout California, despite the fact that set-top DTV converters are not available on the market in the United States. Nonetheless, the Commission conducted a cost-benefit analysis and calculated energy consumption and savings figures for this non-existent product.

"Saving energy is important, but the CEC's regulation misses the point. The digital television transition itself will save energy as broadcasters stop running both analog and digital transmitters. In fact, with every month that the transition to digital television is delayed, California could relinquish more than $1.6 million or almost $20 million per year in energy savings.
"The consumer electronics and broadcast industries are committed to energy conservation. The consumer electronics industry, for example, has long participated in the voluntary federal Energy Star program, which aids governments, businesses and consumers in making energy-efficient choices that save energy, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment. Additionally, manufacturers are deeply involved in industry-led standards-setting activities focused on energy efficient design. More, new multi-functional consumer electronics devices that combine the operations once performed by a series of products into one converged device also help reduce energy consumption by providing higher energy efficiency than multiple devices.

"The California Energy Commission's unnecessary and unjustified regulation for DTV adapters must be withdrawn to ensure that no Americans are left behind in the digital transition."

Other industry leaders also weighed-in on the California Energy Commission's regulation of DTV adapters:
"[We] are concerned that the [CEC regulation] could have adverse consequences for the public. It may result in establishing a different, perhaps more expensive, converter box just for California residents. As a result, California viewers may not receive the full benefits of the federal [subsidy] program. In turn, this may have the unintended consequence of delaying the availability of these converter boxes to the citizens of California. Consumer acceptance is the key to the digital transition, and any delay or impediment to the roll out of digital to analog converter boxes could slow down the digital transition."
- David Donovan, president, The Association for Maximum Service Television

"As the country has finally developed a clear path to the decades of effort in the transition to digital television and all its benefits, it is unconscionable that any agency with a mandate to work for the public interest could be foolish enough to place any unilateral impediment or single out the last key enabler of this long anticipated transition with an arbitrary rule like this."
- Charles H. Jablonski, former vice president of Broadcast and Network Engineering, NBC

"Retailers want their California customers to have the same range of opportunities that our customers in other states will have to keep receiving broadcast television."
- Robert S. Schwartz, Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition

"The evolution from analog to digital television must continue unencumbered to insure a smooth and cost effective transition. Artificial restraints service no one."
- Randall Dark, co-founder and president, HD Vision Studios, Los Angeles

Posted by Dale Cripps, April 11, 2006 10:49 PM

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About Dale Cripps

Dale Cripps is a professional journalist who has focused two thirds of his career on the subject of high-definition television. Upon completing his education in business and service in the military he formed Cripps and Associates, South Pasadena, California, in 1964, which operated as a market-development company for aerospace services. In 1983 he turned to television and began what has become a 20 year campaign to pioneer HDTV. For fifteen of those years he published the well-regarded HDTV Newsletter (an international monthly written for television professionals). During much of this same time he also served as the HDTV-Technical Editor for "Widescreen Review Magazine." On November 16, 1998 he launched the Internet distributed HDTV Magazine, which remains the only consumer publication devoted exclusively to high-definition television. In April of 2002 he co-founded with Tedson Meyers of Coudert Bros, the High-definition Television Association of America, which is presently based in Washington DC. Cripps is the president of this organization. Mr. Cripps is a charter member of the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers and honored by that organization with the DTV Press Leadership Award of 2002. He makes his home in Oregon.