I get it. CEA stands for “Consumer Electronics Association”, and in addition to hosting the CES conference in Las Vegas every January, the organization provides “representation from the voice of the industry, CEA, promoting and advancing member needs and interests.” And those 2,200 members are companies within the consumer technology industry. So I get it; the CEA is a cheerleader for its industry.
But I still have a difficult time swallowing some of their pronouncements. Yesterday’s press release is no exception: “I remain convinced that the nation will be fully prepared for a successful and consumer-friendly transition on June 12th, said Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro.” He was testifying before Congress when he made this statement. The press release also goes on to state that he “outlined the vast number of consumer educational efforts that CEA and industry partners have participated in for more than a decade, ensuring the nation is prepared for this historic transition.”
Excuse me? The nation is prepared? The only numbers I’ve seen lately are that we still have more than 4 million U.S. households that are totally unprepared for the end of analog broadcasts. This is down from more than 13 million a year ago, but the pace of converting the unprepared to prepared is slowing down dramatically as we get closer to the June 12 transition deadline. If Shapiro is saying that we’ll be 100% prepared in the next two months, that’s just not credible. And if he’s saying that 4 million unprepared households is acceptable in order for the nation to be “fully prepared”, I suspect that more than a few consumer advocates might disagree with him. It would seem that he’s willing to accept a large number of unprepared households, as the press release states that “he explained that the country and the industry were ready for the original February 17 transition date.”
From where I sit, the country is not ready for the transition, and if analog broadcasts ended today, millions of people would lose access to news and entertainment that they currently get from the free analog television broadcasts. I understand that the CEA may feel obligated to put a bright spin on the situation, but a polyannish polish of the situation as presented in this press release does not help consumers or companies in the long run.