Legislator Opposes DTV "Tuner Tax"

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation that seeks to overturn the FCC's August DTV tuner mandate

The bill, H.R. 5685, also known as the "TV Consummer Choice Act" was introduced just prior to the end of the Congressional session, but Sensenbrenner says he will continue to pursue his quest to end what he calls a TV "tax" if re-elected.

The FCC's justification for the DTV tuner mandate is that they will render all sets digitally compatible for the 2007 transition. However, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the mandate - which requires digital tuners in TV sets 36-inches or larger by July 2004 (and in all sizes larger than 13 inches in the ensuing years - will increase the cost of the average TV by $250.

"The result of the FCC's mandate is comparable to requiring viewers to purchase an expensive antenna when they already have cable," Sensenbrenner said. "When you consider the $250 added cost to future TVs, along with the projection that less than 13 percent of consumers will use this device, the FCC mandate is unacceptable."

Sensenbrenner explains that he supports the switch to digital, but feels the tuners should not be forced upon the public and that "$250 can go a long way in Wisconsin and I can think of better ways to spend it than on a piece of equipment that most of us are unlikely to use."