• Kyodo

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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Thursday it will soon start selling plasma- and liquid crystal-display TVs equipped with built-in tuners for terrestrial digital broadcasts.

Cathode-ray tube TVs and LCD TVs that can receive terrestrial digital broadcasting services are already on the market, but Matsushita Electric will be the first electronics manufacturer to launch plasma-display TVs with this function.

Sales will begin Sept. 1.

Terrestrial digital TV broadcasts will get fully under way in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya areas in December and in the rest of Japan by the end of 2006.

The plasma-display TVs will come in three sizes — 50-, 42- and 37-inch screens — while LCD TVs will be available in 32-, 26- and 22-inch sizes. All will have flat screens.

The 50-inch plasma-display TV will retail for around 1.1 million yen. The smaller sizes will range in price between 350,000 yen and 750,000 yen.

The TVs will be able to process all video signals in digital form to achieve optimal picture quality, while the screens will be about 50 percent brighter than conventional TVs, it said.

The company said it is also strengthening its product lineup and production capacity for flat-panel TVs, which are becoming increasingly popular, and plans to achieve an annual production capacity of more than 4 million units to capture a 30 percent share of the global market for flat-panel TVs by 2005.

Matsushita Electric, best known for its National and Panasonic brand products, said its flat-panel TVs will be launched under the name Viera. Its conventional T brand will be limited to cathode-ray tube TVs.