FCC Details Inquiry into DTV Tuner Performance Standards

After announcing two weeks ago that it would issue a public notice of inquiry on performance standards for DTV tuners, the FCC has released details of what it expects the inquiry to cover.

Specifically, the commission wants to know what minimum interference standards should be specified for DTV tuners and how do those minimums compare to the performance of existing equipment for DTV. The commission also wants to know what additional costs would be involved if such standards were developed.

In addition, the commission also wants to know how consumers will be informed of differences in receiver performance and how much time it will take to develop and implement such standards.

And considering that the DTV tuner mandate takes effect starting in 2004, the commission also is considering whether or not to form an industry group to develop receiver guidelines within the next 12 months.

Most important, though, the FCC stressed that it supports voluntary performance standards, denying requests from NAB, MSTV and Sinclair to make the standards mandatory. However, the commission raised the possibility of developing and publishing minimum receiver standards and allowing manufacturers who abide by the standards to label or mark such products.

"We believe that there could be a benefit to an approach that would encourage the development of minimum performance guidelines for DTV receivers and enable manufacturers to market a special category of receivers that meet such guidelines," the commission said.

Comments are due by mid-June.