Sony, Panasonic Scale Back TV Manufacturing

Japanese electronics makers Sony and Panasonic are scaling back when it comes to flat-screen TVs. Bested by their Korean counterparts, the companies recently announced they are shrinking their money-losing operations. Analyst and investors are wondering why they didn't do it sooner.

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There was a time when the American television manufacturing industry was devastated by competition from Japan. Japan became the leading maker of TVs. But now names like Sony and Panasonic are scaling back their own TV operations. NPR's Nina Gregory has more.

NINA GREGORY, BYLINE: Sony's advances in television were so significant, its Trinitron TV actually won an Emmy in 1973, the first time a product won the prestigious award. And yet despite its pioneering history, Sony and its longtime rival Panasonic have both announced they're dramatically scaling back their television manufacturing businesses. Industry analyst Jack Plunkett explains the Japanese companies have had to contend with their strong currency, which makes their products more expensive, plus fierce competition from the likes of Samsung and LG.

JACK PLUNKETT: The fact is that consumers worldwide today perceive Korean goods to be of high quality and to be very high value. So why should they pay a lot more for essentially the same product from Sony or Panasonic when they can get a great value and great quality from the Koreans?

GREGORY: Plunkett says Japanese companies are resilient. They have strong engineering and management. And now what they need is to get creative. Nina Gregory, NPR News.

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