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Digital move expected to hasten demise of CRT TVs

Leading television manufacturers forecast that the long era of cathode ray tube (CRT) TV will soon come to an end after digital terrestrial broadcasting comes into full effect.

"The CRT market is now around 15 per cent of the total. This segment will begin fading out a year or two from now. How quickly it fades depends on the expansion of digital broadcasting upcountry," Jumpei Sugimoto, marketing manager for home entertainment at Sony Thai, told The Nation.

In fact, leading TV brands such as LG, Sony, Samsung and Toshiba have been closing down their CRT production lines for years and retooling them for more cutting-edge TV screens like LCD (liquid-crystal display) and LED (light-emitting diode) to cater to increasing demand.

Takon Niyomthai, general manager of Toshiba Thailand, said his company had not manufactured CRT televisions for the Kingdom since 2004 because of increased demand for LCD TVs. This followed its parent company's transition towards digital TV in Japan.

"The last CRT models produced by Toshiba were the 14LCT, 21LZT and 29LZ5ST, but they are no longer available," Takon said.

Sugimoto said Sony Thai also ended production of CRT TVs about six years ago.

Meanwhile, Nipon Wongsaengarunsri, head of home entertainment and home appliances of LG Electronics (Thailand), said that although his company decided to end the production of CRT TVs in the first quarter of last year, it opted to import them for continuing demand in this country.

According to LG market research, sales of CRT TVs in terms of units have been declining significantly in Thailand for several years. Of the 3 million television sets the industry sold in 2011, CRT units accounted for just 1.3 million, or 43 per cent. In 2012, total TV sales reached 3.1 million units, but only about 985,000 CRT sets were sold, a 34-per-cent share. Last year, the industry sold 2.9 million TV sets, of which only 500,000 were CRT units, about 18 per cent.

"We believe that demand in the CRT TV segment will not exist five years from now," Nipon said.

Toshiba Thailand said it saw the same trend. However, even though these companies appear to be leaving the CRT TV segment behind, they still provide after-sales service as usual.

Sony customers can directly contact their service centres, call the company's information centres, or even arrange home service, Sugimoto said.

Though people will be able to watch digital content on old-fashioned TV sets by using a DVB-T2 set-top box with a new antenna, their viewing experience will not be as good as that provided by LCD, LED or OLED (organic LED) TVs.

Sugimoto said the TV-set market would grow along with the availability of digital broadcasting nationwide. But the most critical driver of this growth would be high-definition programming.

"HD content will be the key factor to grow the TV market. So we hope more and more content providers will deliver HD programmes to this market. Just channelling more standard-definition programmes through digital broadcasting signals may not attract our customers," he said.


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