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CEA Reassures FCC Over Battery Powered DTV Boxes

The consumer electronics industry is aware of the need for battery-powered DTV-to-analog converter boxes and TVs and is optimistic that, in the "long term" they will be widely available in "several variations and at different price points."

That was the message Wednesday from Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

That reassurance was in response to a letter Martin sent two weeks ago warning that there was a shortage of battery packs and battery-powered converter boxes and "encouraging" their availability. "It does not appear that the market is meeting consumer demand for these devices. Please consult with your members and let me know when we might expect to see more such products in the market," Martin had said in his letter.

Shapiro said he had alerted his members about the importance of stocking battery-powered DTV boxes, but also said that many retailers have been stocking battery-powered DTV receivers for the past year.

Shapiro frequently argues that the transition is likely to go pretty smoothly with some, but understandable and manageable, viewer dislocation. He suggested that, if past is prologue, the chairman's concerns will be taken care of by the marketplace. "You may recall that similar concerns were voiced about the availability of digital-to-analog converters as well as digital-to-analog with analog pass-through. The marketplace has obviously responded in both cases."

Martin also has concerns about the availability, or lack of it, of the low-cast ($40 or so) converter boxes that could be covered entirely by the $40 coupon subsidy program. He registered that with the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition, which he also contacted about the battery-powered boxes issue.