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The HDTV Riddle

Techstination feature for Friday, March 29, 2002

When it comes to HDTV... what comes first... the broadcasts or the customers? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It's the old chicken and the egg puzzle all over again. Why should broadcasters, satellite and cable companies invest in provide HDTV signals... .when so few customers have the equipment to receive them? And why should customers buy HDTV receivers... when most cable companies aren't providing them with HDTV signals? The problem is frustrating for lots of people... including the companies that are making new HDTVs. At Sharp Electronics, which is just out with new LCD and Plasma models... senior product manager Tony Favia tells us...

"Seventy percent of the American public gets their television signals through their cable company. And so we believe and most consumer electronics manufacturers believe as well that cable television carriage of HDTV signals will be critical to the mass acceptance of high definition television and digital television in the future. So we as an industry are working very closely with the cable industry and with the federal government, by the way, which has mandated that by 2006 all analog TV signals are to be switched over to digital and so there's a timetable in place that the Federal Communications Commission has laid out."

There are those who question just how realistic that 2006 date is. And others who question the future of the technology period. Another issue to throw into the mix... the high prices for HDTV receivers. As with all consumer electronics... they'll come down when more people start to buy. But that leads us back to thej chicken and the egg. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.