Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher told Congress today that private industry, and not the government, must take the lead in developing high-definition television production in this country.
Mosbacher said that HDTV sales in this country could reach $140 billion in the next 20 years and that the impact of HDTV will go far beyond entertainment uses. He cited potential advances in education, retailing and the military and said the United States must take a leading role in this developing industry.
Domestic Aid Stressed
But the private sector should remain preeminent in this effort, he said, and any U.S. funds that are expended for research in HDTV should go to the domestic industry and not to foreign competitors.
“In my view the private sector must take the lead . . . and we’re the ones who will be getting the hindrances out of the way,” he said.
He suggested the government role could include tax incentives and possible antitrust exemptions for U.S. manufacturers of HDTV products. He said that development of a government policy in this regard has the “highest priority” at the Commerce Department and that he expects to be able to make a recommendation to Congress on the government role in the next two months.
A private study released Tuesday said the United States must move aggressively into the new high-definition television and flat-screen display industries or lose more than 2 million jobs annually and suffer a $225-billion trade deficit in electronics by the year 2010.
Industry Deficits Forecast
If the United States does not compete effectively with the Japanese and other nations in the high-technology arena, the personal computer and semiconductor industries alone could have respective deficits of $114 billion and $76 billion early in the next century, the report from the Economic Policy Institute said.
Japan expects to have an HDTV system in full operation by the mid-1990s, whereas the U.S. telecommunications industry has barely begun testing of HDTV technology.
The report’s author, Robert Cohen, said: “Our nation stands at a critical juncture. If we do not create a strong industrial base centered on development of HDTV and flat-display screen technology, it will not only weaken our industrial base, but also reduce the numbers of skilled jobs that are needed to make us more competitive.”