If there’s anything that was clear at the CEA Washington Forum yesterday, it was the level of crossover that’s now taking place between the consumer electronics industry and the realm of cable, telco and wireless networks. This was particularly highlighted in the “Transition to Digital Television (DTV)” session.
Moderated by Brian Cooley from CNET, DTV on-stage panelists included higher-ups from the National Association of Broadcasting (NAB), the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Kyle McSlarrow, head of the NCTA, and Gary Shapiro, head of the CEA sat side by side. All the better to goad each other.
There was a good deal of focus on consumer benefits and consumer education around DTV. However, beneath a layer of cooperation, there was also a clear turf war going on. The CE and cable industries haven’t had to work together much before, and now that they do, each wants to make sure that its own interests are protected. It takes money and effort to make CE devices and broadband networks talk to each other, and no one wants to be responsible for too much of the burden.
My favorite moment of the day? Brian Cooley asked if there’s any appetite to extend the DTV transition deadline again. The answer was a resounding no, but McSlarrow and Shapiro couldn’t help bantering back and forth on the topic. McSlarrow then turned to the audience and said, “You guys think we’re talking about DTV. Gary and I are talking about CableCARD.”
CableCARD came up more than once, and clearly McSlarrow and Shapiro have argued the subject many, many times. I doubt CableCARD will be the last flash point as these two industries merge closer together in the coming years.