Broadcast, CE trade groups disagree on DTV tuner mandate changes

August 3, 2005

The NAB and Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) last week filed comments with the FCC urging the commission to stick to its proposed rules that would advance the deadline for new TV receiving equipment to include a DTV tuner to Dec. 31, 2006.

The trade groups also urged the commission to advance the date even more to accommodate increased consumer demand for new televisions in the months leading up to the Super Bowl. Additionally, the groups asked the commission to address what they see as a loophole in the DTV tuner mandate by requiring set manufacturers to include DTV tuners in portable sets 13in and smaller.

Commission rules regarding inclusion of over-the-air DTV tuners in consumer sets is one of several interlocking factors affecting consumers, broadcasters, set manufacturers and other stakeholders in the cessation of analog TV transmission.

The NAB and MSTV were responding to a commission request for comments on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to advance the DTV tuner mandate.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) weighed in on the issue as well, asking the commission to maintain its original July 1, 2007, deadline and reject rules extending digital tuner requirements to receivers with screen sizes smaller than 13in.

According to the CEA’s filing, accelerating the mandate would decrease the number of DTV tuners in the marketplace, cause a spike in the price of smaller sets, and cause a market disruption which ultimately harms consumers.

Regarding including TVs under 13in in the DTV tuner mandate, the CEA said the cost and development burdens on set makers and the affect on consumers would outweigh any possible benefits.

In their joint filing, the NAB and MSTV pointed to the important role small, portable sets play during emergencies and natural disasters. Not mandating DTV tuners in such sets would at some point in the future cut off viewers from vital emergency communications.

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