New TVs don’t pass FCC test

Despite FCC mandates, many digital sets on the market don’t have the required tuners included

In spite of an FCC order that digital tuners be included in all large television sets and half of all mid-sized sets by July 1, the majority of such sets offered by retailers still do not include them, said a report by the National Journal’s Technology Daily.

Among the sets for sale on Best Buy’s Web site last week, 33 percent included tuners capable of receiving digital broadcasts. Circuit City’s online percentage of digital sets was 44 percent, according to a survey of the two leading electronics retailers conducted by the Journal.

The FCC mandated that electronics companies build digital tuners into progressively smaller sets. On July 1, 2004, 50 percent of all sets 36in and higher needed tuners. On July 1, 2005, 100 percent of those sets and 50 percent of sets 25in to 35in were to have tuners.

However, the requirement is only binding on the manufacture or importation of sets into the United States, which typically applies to electronics companies — not retailers.

Of the 37 larger-sized sets Best Buy offered online, 27 had tuners, for a total of 73 percent. A similar percentage was exhibited last week at the Best Buy retail outlet in Tyson’s Corner, Va. Forty-one of the 54 larger sets had tuners, for a total of 76 percent.

Circuit City last week offered 56 TV sets 36in or larger online. Forty-two sets, or 75 percent, had tuners. The numbers were considerably lower at the Circuit City retail outlet in Tyson’s Corner, with only one tuner among the 12 large sets — or 8 percent — for sale.

John Taylor, a spokesman for LG Electronics, told the Journal that it is going to take retail a little while to catch up because the deadlines are based on wholesale shipments from manufacturers to retailers.

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