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HDTV buyers get fuzzy deal, Cuban says
By Kimberly S. Johnson Denver Post
Beverly Hills, Calif. - Consumers are getting a raw deal when it comes to viewing the best quality of high-definition television possible, said Mark Cuban, co-founder and president of Denver-based HD.Net. Speaking to more than 200 members of the television-manufacturing industry last week during an HDTV conference, Cuban said most HD content is compressed or made smaller, underutilizing HDTV sets capable of showing programming with extremely high resolution.
"It's all really depressed derivatives of what we really could see," he said.
Cuban was the keynote speaker for the conference sponsored by DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas, market-research and analysis firm for the TV-display industry.
Cable and satellite companies are compressing HD video so they can fit and send more programming over their networks. Picture quality is being sacrificed and will continue to be sacrificed, Cuban said.
"It's your turn for your industry to stand up and say something, or else you're going to be the redheaded stepchildren that keep on getting kicked around," he said.
He urged manufacturers to speak up and demand that cable, satellite and even movie companies allow for the picture quality the sets are designed to show.
"Right now, everybody is looking at compression to squeeze more channels in. No one is talking about using compression to come out with a better picture," he said. "It means all that work you're putting into picture quality is going to become worthless."
Nearly 2 million HDTVs have been sold this year, up 28 percent from all of 2004, according to the NPD Group, a market-research firm.
Manufacturers need to have more control over how HD content is displayed in retail showrooms. Cuban said 15 percent to 17 percent of people who purchase HDTVs return them because they're not satisfied with their viewing experience.
"That goes to presentation on the salesroom floor," he said. "Showing decent standard definition and amazing high-def, you're going to sell more and consumers are going to keep them."