No Break For TV Makers’ DTV Deadline

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After months of inaction on TV set makers’ request to delay a July 1 government deadline for building digital tuners into half of their most popular television models, the FCC is expected to dismiss the manufacturers’ petitions at its June 9 meeting.

The Consumer Electronics Association asked the FCC to delay the 50% quota for TVs with screens sized 25- to-36-inches, arguing that consumer demand for so many digital sets hasn’t yet materialized. As an enticement to dropping the 50% deadline, CEA offered to move up the deadline for building tuners into 100% of sets that size by four months, to March 1, 2006.

Broadcasters, who want large numbers of digital-ready sets on the market as quickly as possible, sparked a war of words with CEA, whose members are mostly Asian-based electronics companies, by urging the FCC to reject delay on behalf of a bunch of “offshore receiver manufacturers.”

The news of the anticipated FCC defeat was a surprise to CEA spokesman Jeff Joseph, but he said the TV makers have begun shipping DTV-ready sets in numbers large enough to meet the July 1 deadline.

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