By James Wells

SYDNEY: Hitachi Australia has issued a statement responding to a controversial article published by David Richards which the company claims represents "unethical, unacceptable and misleading journalism".

“Hitachi Australia would like to take this opportunity to strongly refute the unfounded claims made today by Smarthouse in an article titled ‘Retail sparks Fly over Hitachi Full HD claims’,” said the statement issued by Hitachi senior management this afternoon.

“In this article David Richards makes specific claims that Hitachi has been accused by Harvey Norman of intentionally misleading consumers on the capabilities of our P50X01 Full High Definition plasma television. Harvey Norman made no such statement about the Hitachi TV range,” the statement said.

“At the centre of Mr Richards claim is the definition of the term Full HD. According to the article a range of industry experts from both retailers and manufacturers define Full HD to mean purely the 1080p video standard. On Hitachi’s information, and on technical advice Hitachi has in its possession to date, this definition of the term Full HD is purely an opinion and has no basis in any officially legislated standards either in Australia or globally.

“A survey of major television manufacturer websites and promotional material will show a range of differing definitions of the term Full HD. Some manufacturers also have a different definition of the term Full HD depending on whether it is describing a Television or a camcorder.

“In a recent press release promoting their new Ten HD service channel Ten made the following statement defining Full HD to mean 1920 x 1080i (interlaced) which is clearly at odds with the claims made by the experts referred to in Mr. Richards article.

“In early 2007, TEN increased its transmission quality to 1920 pixels by 1080i and 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. TEN is the only Australian network transmitting this "true, full HD" broadcast standard, which is internationally accepted to be ‘as good as it gets’ in broadcasting.

“Hitachi Australia has, and still is, at all times 100% consistent regarding the definition of Full HD. Hitachi Australia have only ever used the term to describe devices that can display, capture or record 1920 x 1080 pixels. Hitachi Australia have never stated or claimed in any way whatsoever that Full HD is purely limited to the 1080i or 1080p standard. The P50X01 television has a 1920 x1080 panel that utilizes the interlacing scan method and as such it is clearly a Full HD television.

“After reading this article Hitachi contacted Pioneer Australia to seek clarification of their comments. Pioneer gave us the following statement:

“Michael Broadhurst was misquoted by David Richards. Michael Broadhurst was unaware of any matters regarding Harvey Norman and made no comments about Hitachi directly and feels that there is constant confusion in the market regarding technology in general which can hurt everyone.”

The statement continued: “Hitachi also wishes to advise that it has been in full consultation with the industry and our retail partners on this matter to full clarify what has been stated above.

“It is clear from the varying definitions of Full HD from TV manufacturers and broadcasters, and the clarification of statements made by Mr Richards’s sources, that this article is based on facts that are simply not correct, is misleading on the part of Mr Richards and clearly not in evidence.

“Further to this Hitachi would like to make it known that Mr Richards has specifically asked Hitachi not to send him any information. Our Marketing Communications Officer Ms. Celine Herit complied with his request and despite previously receiving phone calls that could be classed as grossly disturbing to Ms Herit and unprofessional on the part of Mr. Richards, she was happy to make clear to him our position on this issue when he contacted her by phone earlier in the week. Mr Richards misquoted Ms Celine Herit in this article and Hitachi refutes and unequivocally rejects the comment that Ms Herit simply hung up on him.

“Hitachi Australia believes that this article by David Richards totally represents unethical, unacceptable and misleading journalism. It is the latest article in long campaign of one-sided and biased journalism aimed at damaging the reputation of Hitachi for reasons that are only known to Mr. Richards himself.”

A representative from Harvey Norman head office was unavailable for comment this afternoon.