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FCC Moves Up Tuner Mandate for Smaller Sets

In a move designed to speed up the U.S. digital transition, the FCC recently amended its rules and moved forward by four months the date by which all new TV sets must include the capability to receive digital signals. March 1, 2007, is the new effective date that will apply to all new sets, regardless of screen size. (July 1, 2007 was the original mandate deadline for screen sizes 13-24 inches to include tuners.)

The commission's tweaking of the tuner compliance deadline to late winter of 2007 also requires other TV receiving devices such as VCRs and DVRs to include DTV tuners. And the FCC extended the digital tuner requirement to new TV monitors with screen sizes smaller than 13 inches--which typically are battery-capable units that may be used during natural or man-made emergencies, which the FCC specifically noted. (No tuner requirement had applied to the very smallest sets until now.)

The commission said in a statement, "this phase-in plan is intended to allow manufacturers to realize increasing economies of scale with production volume, so that digital tuner costs will be lower when the tuners are required in smaller sets."