Tuesday, February 17, 2009

D-day Part 3 - Buy American - NOT!

So, here was a perfect opportunity to support the sagging US electronics companies like RCA, Zenith, and Magnavox. By creating a new broadcast medium we could boost the sales of transmitters and receivers as well.

But what actually happened was far different.

The rescue arrived late. As it turned out much of the digital broadcast technology was patented to Zenith Electronics. And by the year 2000 Zenith declared bankruptcy only to emerge as a division of the Korean company – Goldstar (aka LG). Zenith’s value to Goldstar was two-fold, the Zenith name and the digital tv patents.

They didn’t want the manufacturing plants or the people. Goldstar saw Zenith’s value as its technology and name recognition, nothing more.

Virtually all TVs are made by foreign companies in foreign plants. Their US operations consist of salesmen and marketing/distribution functions.

But what about all those converter boxes? Well, here’s a good old American company – Magnavox. Buy an American converter box. Buy a Magnavox.

When you call up their website on the Internet it seems as though Magnavox is the same as we remember it, a true-blue “Born in the USA” company. http://www.magnavox.com/

They even tell you “About Magnavox” with the history of Edwin Pridham and Peter Jensen and their loudspeakers in 1915. But they leave out the part about the company being sold to the Asians.
But buy the product and take it home. Examine the box. “Made in China.” And what’s this? The Magnavox logo at the top of the manual and the name Funai at the bottom. What’s Funai? A Japanese company…that happens to own the Magnavox name.

Well, at least the carton is made in the US. Wrong. The carton certificate says IT was made in China as well. The owner’s manual? Printed in China. By the way, the Funai company uses logos like Emerson, Sylvania, and Symphonic as well as Magnavox.

How about RCA? Surely RCA is still an American company. Nope. It was purchased by the French company Thomson. Of course, most of the RCA tvs you see today are built by TTE, and joint venture between the French and the Chinese.

The truth is, most of the good old American names AREN’T American. Look at the clock radios with names like Timex, Zenith, Sunbeam, Bell & Howell and you will find that they are nothing more than a licensed product made in Asia, probably by a company like Sound Design.

So, at the end of the day not much help to American companies came from the conversion of our nation’s broadcast technology.

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