Consumer Alert: Who manufactures your television?

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Consumers may be surprised to find out that the companies that they think are manufacturing the products they buy may not actually be doing so.

People who buy Toshiba or Sharp brand televisions are actually buying televisions made by Chinese company Hisense. That company bought the rights to Toshiba and Sharp’s names after they stopped making TVs of their own.

“A licensing deal doesn’t mean a TV is going to be inferior,” says Consumer Reports electronics reporter James Wilcox. “This is a vehicle for that company to somehow get their product into the marketplace with a brand that's a little more familiar.”

Wilcox says that licensing deals can actually bring dead brands back to live.

Electronic company RCA closed in 1986, but its televisions live on. They are now made by Canadian company Curtis International.

Sometimes companies license more than one brand: Magnavox, Philips and SANYO TVs are all made by Japan-based Funai.

“They may say ‘We're going to use this one brand as our entry level brand. It'll get us into certain kinds of retailers, maybe a warehouse club or a mass merchant, where we'll use the other brand that we control as a step-up brand, and it'll be in an electronics store or a higher end store,’” says Wilcox.

Sometimes new television makers aren’t as new as they may seem.

TCL started out licensing other company names, but recently started to make televisions of their own, under their own label.

Consumer experts say that when buying a new television a shopper shouldn’t just research the manufacturer. They should also research the model that they are thinking about purchasing.

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