THAT Corp. Calls for Full-Disclosure Labeling about Lack of Built-in Stereo Sound for Americans Relying on NTIA Subsidy Program

July 25, 2007, Washington, DC – In a letter addressed to the Assistant Secretary for Communication and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, THAT Corporation Chief Executive Officer Leslie Tyler called for full disclosure in the form of prominent labeling of the capabilities and more importantly-the limitations-of the hotly anticipated digital television transition (DTV) converter boxes. Under the current NTIA converter box specifications, stereo sound, also known as BTSC, is optional and will only be included at the discretion of individual manufacturers. In fact, based on these specifications, the DTV transition could result in a degraded television viewing experience for as many as 75 million Americans who will likely rely on the converter boxes to receive digital signals starting in February 2009.

According to Tyler, these affected Americans, primarily elderly, low-income and minority individuals, must be given complete information on the capabilities and shortcomings of converter boxes before they actually purchase one. Tyler believes that failure to provide such disclosure will result in significant consumer disappointment and a high level of retail returns, ultimately creating an administrative and financial nightmare for all parties.

“If the NTIA is not going to require BTSC stereo, it is in the interest of consumers, retailers and taxpayers that boxes be clearly and prominently labeled-enough to leave no doubt in the consumer’s mind before purchase as to which boxes contain stereo technology and which do not,” Tyler said.

THAT Corp. is also encouraging converter box manufacturers to include stereo sound in the boxes they provide to retailers and ultimately consumers. Tyler estimates that it would cost manufacturers as little as 40 cents per box-about the cost of a postage stamp-to include stereo technology and ensure that those who buy their boxes maintain their current television viewing experience.

“Consumers have an absolute right to know whether the converter box they purchase will preserve or degrade the performance of their current television equipment… Without BTSC stereo, most Americans who purchase converter boxes will be deprived of the stereo audio that they have come to enjoy as part of their current television viewing experience,” Tyler wrote.

About THAT Corporation

Founded in 1989, THAT Corporation designs and sells high-performance analog integrated circuits for professional audio manufacturers, including InGenius® balanced line inputs, microphone preamplifiers, Analog Engine® dynamic processors, and industry-standard IC voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs). The company also licenses patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property to the TV broadcast and reception industries under the dbx-tv brand. The company is headquartered in Milford, MA, and manufactures semiconductors in its own fab located in Milpitas, CA.  THAT maintains offices in Tokyo, Japan, Atlanta, GA, and Vashon, WA.

THAT Corporation,
45 Sumner Street, Milford, MA 01757-1656, USA
Telephone: +1.508.478.9200; Fax +1.508.478.0990