CES Press Release

Four Storylines to Follow at NAB 2014

Arlington, VA – 04/07/2014 – 
1) Are the big networks really that concerned about a tiny innovator like Aereo? On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a landmark case – ABC v. Aereo – deciding how, when and where we watch television. If broadcasters lose, they’ll have to live up to some considerable pre-trial threats. At least two networks have stated publically that an Aereo victory means they’ll consider pulling out of free, over-the-air broadcasting. At a conference last month, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves threatened to take his network over-the-top to, in his words, “come up with some other way to get them our content and still get paid for it.” Similarly, at NAB 2013, News Corp. COO Chase Carey said that if the networks lose to Aereo, “…we will pursue business solutions. One such business solution would be to take the network and turn it into a subscription service.”
 
2) As the number of American homes still watching over-the-air (OTA) programming remains at all-time lows, how viable is the OTA platform? In 1986, more than half of American homes relied on free, OTA broadcasting. But according to most research, today that number is closer to seven percent. More than 90 percent of Americans now rely on cable, satellite and fiber – not spectrum-fueled, OTA transmission – for their television entertainment. And a study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association® supports the fact that TV viewing is no longer a single-device experience: more than four in ten people who own smartphones or tablets now regularly use their devices while watching TV.
 
3) Has innovation, not regulation, finally ended the debate over mandating FM radio chips for smartphones? For years, the debate raged over whether to force smartphone makers to build FM radio-enabled products. In 2012, the NAB’s Dennis Wharton explained, “We’re not seeking legislation; we’re seeking voluntary implementation.” Now, the market itself has arrived at a solution: an app that activates FM tuners on smartphones. Obstacles remain – the app is not yet available across all products or every carrier. But this innovation does allow consumers a “voluntary” choice – the foundation of a market-based solution – rather than establish a broad, regulatory mandate.
 
4) With such cutting-edge technology on display at NAB this week, and tech products’ growing reliance on spectrum, shouldn’t the NAB be eager to free up spectrum? Using the 2014 International CES® as a barometer,  more products than ever rely on Wi-Fi and unlicensed spectrum – smartphones and tablets, health and fitness devices, connected homes and personal drones. In short, spectrum is now the fuel for innovation. On a related note, the recent spectrum-sharing test between two TV stations in Los Angeles – KLCS-TV and KJLA – overcame the perceived technological challenges and put two high-definition television (HDTV) streams on one channel. This is proof-of-performance validation that broadcasters will be able to participate in the FCC’s Incentive Auction, offering up spectrum to those sectors that must have it, without adversely affecting OTA viewers or compromising their content.
 
 
 
About the Consumer Technology Assocation

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the technology trade association representing the $208 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at www.CE.org, www.DeclareInnovation.com and through social media.

Press Contacts:

Laura Hubbard
703-907-4326
lhubbard@CE.org

Tyler Suiters
tsuiters@cta.tech