CEA Takes Tuner Mandate to Court

The Consumer Electronics Association followed through on its threat to challenge the FCC's phased-in mandate that all televisions contain DTV receivers, seeking an injunction against the implementation of the order.

In August, the commission invoked the All-Channel Receivers Act of 1962 in ordering the inclusion of tuners, a move broadcasters have maintained is a key step in accelerating the digital transition.

The FCC order would begin by forcing each manufacturer to include DTV tuners in half its sets 36 inches and larger (diagonally) by July 2004. Half of each manufacturer's sets with screens 25 to 35 inches would require the tuners by July 2005. All TVs 13 inches or larger would require DTV tuners by July 2007. The order did not include monitors without NTSC receivers and did not specify any performance standards for the DTV receivers.

The CEA immediately said it would challenge the order, and filed its case with the D.C. Court of Appeals Oct. 11.

"[T]o incorporate potentially costly digital tuner devices into new television receivers, even though the vast majority of consumers do not need, and will not use, these devices in order to receive digital television programming," exceeds the FCC's authority and violates the 1934 Communications Act, the CEA says in its two-page petition.