Sinclair demands quality specs for DTV tuners

Although the Sinclair Broadcast Group said it applauds the FCC's efforts to enable future DTV receivers with an over-the-air tuner, the company also said the commission did not go far enough to ensure that such receivers will perform well enough to meet consumers’ expectations.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has filed a petition with the FCC, requesting that the FCC define the mandated DTV tuner in sufficient detail that would insure that consumers could "adequately" receive and view over-the-air DTV transmissions.

The FCC's ruling, said Sinclair, is silent on how the mandated DTV tuners must perform and Sinclair said that the Commission has an obligation to be more specific in terms of the tuner's required performance.

Sinclair said it was motivated by the recent pronouncements from leaders of the consumer electronics industry who have stated that over-the-air reception is not important to them.

"[Consumer] Equipment manufacturers have made no secret that they do not care about the quality of over-the-air reception because, in their view, most consumers rely on cable or satellite. If manufacturers view over-the-air reception as unimportant and worthless, there can be little doubt that Commission-mandated tuners will be worthless as well," the Sinclair petition said.

Sinclair notes that the FCC has defined tuner specifications several times in the past under the All Channel Receiver Act and needs to do so again to insure the success of DTV.

"This petition asks the FCC to take the necessary steps to insure that free over-the-air television survives in the digital age. I implore all broadcasters to join us in this request for specificity in the DTV tuner mandate," said Nat Ostroff, Sinclair's vice president of new technology.

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