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Dwarf no more: Tech lobby groups talk merger

September 12, 2008|Jim Puzzanghera

Most major industries have a dominant trade association to make their case in the nation's capital. Think the Motion Picture Assn. of America for the Hollywood movie studios or the American Petroleum Institute for the oil companies. Those lobbying groups give their industries one powerful voice, making it easier to get their messages heard through the Washington cacophony.

But the high-tech industry often creates its own cacophony.

It has more than two dozen trade associations, with enough similar-sounding acronyms -- BSA, CCIA, CEA and CTIA are just a few -- to give lawmakers a headache.

"When it comes to lobbying, everyone else is Snow White and we're the Seven Dwarfs," Phillip J. Bond, the president of the Information Technology Assn. of America, said in a 2006 story about the problem of too many tech industry associations in Washington.

Now, on the theory that size matters, Bond's ITAA and AeA, one of the oldest tech trade groups, announced Thursday that they were in merger talks. (Formerly the American Electronics Assn., AeA now follows a trend of using an acronym as its official name, much to the consternation of copy editors everywhere.)

The two groups declined to discuss the sticking points in their talks, but Bond said a merger would create the industry's leading association, moving the groups "two or three steps toward being Snow White."

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