Digital TV transition looms, CEA goes on free trade tour

August 18, 2008

tv-sets.jpgWASHINGTON – It is about six months until the United States faces a seismic event that potentially rivals the Y2K scare eight years ago — the digital television transition which could switch off millions of old television sets.

The television industry and government officials are doing a lot to warn consumers that if they don’t have a new television that can pick up the new, crisper pictures, don’t buy a digital-to-analog converter box or don’t have a subscription service like cable, they could be in the dark come Feb. 18, 2009.

So that would lead one to believe that the Consumer Electronics Association, whose mission in life is to hawk all those new fangled gizmos to consumers, would be on the road talking up the beautiful (and expensive) digital television sets its members want to sell.

But instead of warning about the looming deadline that could mean millions of televisions going dark, strangely, the CEA has set out on a different kind of bus tour this summer — promoting free trade (and of course never mind that gasoline is still hovering around $4 a gallon).

Free trade you ask? Well, it certainly left us scratching our heads, since the Democratic-controlled Congress has pretty much made it clear no free trade agreements will likely pass this year (Colombia, Panama and South Korea are pending) despite constant pressure from President George W. Bush.

The bus is going through 28 states over the next few  weeks and it will also make appearances at the two presidential nominating conventions in late August and early September.

A spokesman for CEA, Jason Oxman, said they were challenged by congressional leaders to mount an education effort and how trade was a “bright spot” in the faltering economy. He also said the United States had already cut tariffs on Colombian products entering the country but U.S. goods still faced barriers entering that country.

“We are responding with a nationwide, grassroots educational tour that highlights free trade’s vital role in the U.S. economy and job creation, as 16 percent of the 4.4 million Americans who work in the CE industry owe their jobs to free trade,” he said.

As for the digital transition, Oxman said “Our consumer education work with our industry and government partners is active and widespread.”

(Photo: Reuters)


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Thank you Jeremy for commenting on two major initiatives of CEA: the digital transition and free trade. We have worked to get to this point on DTV for over 15 years and have joined with other industries on our goal of ensuring that all Americans know their options before the transition date. Our free trade campaign is focused on the long term and reflects our long term concern that free trade’s benefits are not well understood by many Americans. Our association represents over 2200 consumer electronics companies and we are capable of working on a range of initiatives at any time – including producing the nation’s largest event – the International CES.

Posted by Jason Oxman | Report as abusive

Digital TV conversion is a pain in the butt. Initially when the federal govt. announced that they would be assisting in the transition, they said there would be a rebate coupon program to help pay for the converter boxes analog-TV owners would need to purchase to make the switch.

They said that these coupons would be automatically mailed to every American without having to sign up or do any footwork of any sort.

Now they are saying that there is a “limited number” of the rebate coupons available (thereby forcing a LARGE number of people to pay full price for one of the converter boxes), and that you have to REQUEST that the coupons be sent to your address. That’s a complete 180 degree turn from what was initially planned.

What a botched attempt by Congress. They totally screwed this thing up already. Way to go morons!

Posted by K-Man | Report as abusive