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Zenith Radio Corp.'s President E. F. McDonald Jr. (whose company has cautiously avoided color TV) charged last week that RCA had deliberately oversold the industry on color since 1953. In 1954 industry-wide licensing agreements, by which RCA collects royalties from other manufacturers using any of thousands of its radio, black-and-white and color TV patents, were due to expire. With affiliated NBC, charged McDonald. RCA engaged in "premature tub thumping for color television to induce manufacturers to sign up for a new license term of five years, and to continue collecting millions of dollars a year from the rest of the industry." Many TV men, on the other hand, point out that RCA is doing more than the rest of the industry combined to get color out of the red. But few differ with McDonald's conclusion: "Color TV has been slow to take hold for the simple reason that our industry has not yet produced a good enough color picture to make people want to pay the extra price."
The Hue Is Blue. The trouble goes deeper than the quality of color. The black-and-white programs that make up the vast bulk of TV fare (80% on color-conscious NBC) often seem wan and whiskery on color sets. Color reception takes such keen tuning that many a would-be customer loses heart while the salesman fumbles. Moreover, color reception must be live to be good. In the West, where night network shows are often Kinescoped to meet the time differential, viewers complain that all the hues come out blue.
Virtually all manufacturers are trying to hasten TV's rainbow age with simpler set design and cheaper tubes that may pare as much as $100 from the cost of a color receiver. Bigger cuts will not be forthcoming until the industry can sell at least 1,000,000 sets a year, the point at which it expects to make a profit. For the record, the industry now expects to top that mark in 1958.