FCC’s digital tuner requirements not being met

Last spring, all new television sets with 25in or larger screens were required by the FCC to be sold with tuners that could receive terrestrial DTV signals. However, that goal has not been met.

At a Best Buy store in Virginia, the “National Journal’s Technology Daily” found last week that 93 of 128 (73 percent) mid- and large-screen TV sets had DTV capable tuners. At a nearby Circuit City store, the percentage of DTV ready sets was 83 percent of the 155 available models.

Larger-screen home theater systems — those 60in or larger — tended to have fewer DTV tuners. At Best Buy, the survey found that 21 percent, or three of the 14 home theater systems, included DTV tuners.

In addition, the makers and sellers of these new television receivers failed to adequately inform potential buyers that TVs without DTV tuners will not receive over-the-air broadcasts after analog broadcasting has ended in February 2009.

In 2003, the FCC began a systematic plan to gradually include digital tuners in all new television sets. The deadline for sets larger than 25in was March 1 of this year. Sets 13in or larger are required to have digital tuners by March 1, 2007.