Toshiba has signed up to use Zenith's 8-VSB digital TV patents to manufacture its new digital sets. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The deal was a no brainer for Toshiba because Zenith's patents are at the core of the DTV transmission standard established by the FCC.
Over the next three years, set makers are required to phase-in production of sets with built-in DTV tuners. Beginning July 1, 50% of 36-inch and larger sets were required to have DTV tuners.
By 2008, all sets 13-inches and larger must be equipped to receive a digital signal.
Toshiba has not licensed Zenith's latest DTV chip, but the technology it is acquiring will allow it to design comparable chips of its own.
Performance improvements made possible by Zenith's latest chips convinced Sinclair Broadcasting to drop its longstanding and vocal opposition to the U.S. DTV standard, whose initial iterations Sinclair felt did not provide a sufficiently reliable digital signal to serve either its viewers or Sinclair's business model.