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Best Buy CEO worried on economy, digital TV transition

The retailer's head, Brad Anderson, told Consumer Electronics Show attendees that both the U.S. economy and digital TV changeover are high on his list of concerns.

LAS VEGAS--Asked about the state of the U.S. economy, Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson said on Tuesday that it is clearly a concern.

"People that are getting their first (home heating) oil bills at $3 a gallon," he said, even as the U.S. mortgage crisis continues to hang over the economy. "The share of mind that the 'r word' is getting in the media has us concerned," he said, alluding to but not uttering, the word recession.

But Anderson said it was the transition to digital television that posed the biggest threat to his industry, warning of the dangers if consumers find themselves having TVs that don't work once the broadcasters end their analog signals in February of 2009.

"We're very nervous about the potential risk," Anderson said. "I think the industry will be damaged if we as an industry don't handle this well."

At the Consumer Electroncis Show on Tuesday, CEA Chief Gary Shapiro asks retail executives, including the heads of Best Buy and Circuit City, for their views on the U.S. economy, the digital TV transition, and other issues. Ina Fried/CNET

His comments came as part of a panel discussion of several retail executives at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

Circuit City CEO Philip J. Schoonover, meanwhile, was most concerned with his own company's performance, which has lagged the industry.

"I'm not smiling," Schoonover said, after Anderson and other retail executives beamed at their own growth last year.

"We're trying to fix the plan while flying the plane," he said. "It proved to be more challenging than I think any of us estimated."