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Pioneer officially ends plasma TV production

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Pioneer today confirmed that it will soon begin wrapping up its in-house plasma panel production in its entirety. The announcement follows weeks of rumours that some or all of the operation was for the chop.

The company admitted that maintaining the cost-competitiveness of plasma display panels at projected sales volumes will be difficult going forward. Pioneer is the world's fifth largest plasma TV maker.

Pioneer will continue to sell plasma TVs, but it didn't say which manufacturer has been chosen to provide it with plasma panels. However, recent reports cited moles who claimed that Matsushita, owner of the Panasonic brand, and Hitachi as potential suppliers.

It will shut down manufacturing once production of its next series of plasma TV models is complete, which is likely to take a few years yet. Indeed, the company admitted that the changes announced today aren’t expected to deliver financial benefits until 2010.

That suggests the ultra-thin, high-black line of Kuro plasma TVs that Pioneer announced earlier this year will make it to market.

Beyond that, Pioneer said it will look to license its TV technology to whoever its supplier or suppliers, so it looks like its developments will continue even if they're implemented by someone else.

Ending in-house production is expected to cost Pioneer around ¥19bn (£92m/€130m/$184m) in the short term, but it aims to “compensate for cutbacks on the plasma display business” by driving further expansion in its growth businesses, such as car stereos.

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