Flat-panel TV shipments down third year in a row

JIJI

Shipments of flat-panel televisions in 2013 fell 16.7 percent from the previous year to 5.376 million units, down for the third consecutive year, an industry group said Wednesday.

The figure is almost one-fifth of the recent peak of 25.193 million units marked in 2010.

The decline came as replacement demand diminished after the completion of the shift to digital terrestrial broadcasting, officials of the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association said.

In addition, the end of the government’s Eco-point subsidy program for energy-efficient home appliances led to the drop, according to the officials.

The domestic TV market, however, is showing signs of recovering thanks to strong sales of so-called 4K ultrahigh-resolution TVs, which have four times more pixels than full high-definition TVs.

A JEITA spokesman said that hopefully an economic upturn and the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will boost TV shipments this year.

By size, shipments of TVs with the screen sizes of 29 inches and smaller dropped 30.5 percent while those of 37-inch and larger TVs, including 4K models, posted only a small drop of 1.7 percent.

Shipments of 37-inch and larger TVs enjoyed year-on-year growth for the fifth straight month in December as makers are increasing their lineups of those higher-profitability models, according to JEITA.

Panasonic to absorb unit

Osaka KYODO

Panasonic Corp. plans to absorb the flat-panel TV business run by subsidiary Sanyo Electric Co. in North America to sharpen its competitive edge in electronics, Panasonic sources said.

The move comes as Panasonic plans to integrate in April its digital audiovisual electronics operation, including flat-panel televisions, with its home electronics division involving refrigerators.

In North America, Sanyo ships around 3 million TVs annually to U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Since the business has been profitable, Panasonic will retain the Sanyo brand there, the sources said Thursday.

Panasonic will solicit voluntary retirements for Sanyo’s 30 to 40 employees at home who are associated with the business, the sources said.

After the absorption of its TV business, Sanyo’s major operation will be the production of electronic devices by subsidiary Sanyo Techno Solutions Tottori Co.