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Congressman Sensenbrenner : Repeal FCC Tuner Mandate

House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. released a description of The TV Consumer Choice Act which would eliminate all FCC requirements for DTV tuners in TV sets. He introduced the bill in Congress last week. In the description, he said, "This 'TV Tax' by the FCC might be helpful to the 12 percent of American households who currently rely on such broadcasts, but is useless to the 88 percent of households who subscribe to cable, satellite, or other services. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average cost of a TV with a built-in tuner is $950. Under the FCC's mandate, millions of Americans who want to purchase a new TV will be forced to spend $950 on a new TV or up to $100 on a DTV tuner."

Congressman Sensenbrenner is not against DTV and he acknowledges the DTV conversion will provide better pictures and sound for home viewers. However, he believes "Consumer choice, not government mandates, is the best way to efficiently and fairly facilitate the transition to digital broadcasting." He explains, "although DTV may offer new and exciting technology, costly and wasteful tuners should not be imposed upon television viewers nationwide. While some argue that this heavy-handed mandate is necessary to successfully make the transition from analog to digital broadcasts, this is simply not true. If consumers want to receive digital broadcasts, they will either choose to purchase a TV with the appropriate tuner or buy a stand-alone tuner to hook up to their current set."

Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced similar legislation a few years ago, but it was never enacted. Will it succeed this time?