Tuner Comments Fly - TvTechnology

Tuner Comments Fly

The comments started rolling in this week on the FCC action seeking more information on DTV tuners. The commission has proposed moving up the date -- from the end of 2007 to the end of '06 -- when all TVs with screens 13 inches and larger must include digital over-the-air, or ATSC, tuners. The same proposal seeks feed
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The comments started rolling in this week on the FCC action seeking more information on DTV tuners. The commission has proposed moving up the date -- from the end of 2007 to the end of '06 -- when all TVs with screens 13 inches and larger must include digital over-the-air, or ATSC, tuners. The same proposal seeks feedback on whether TVs smaller than 13 inches should be included in the mandate.

Darn right, they ought to, said the broadcast lobbies. In a joint filing, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television also suggested that the FCC move the final deadline up even more, although it was not specific about exactly how much.

"MSTV and NAB absolutely support the commission's proposal to move the DTV tuner deadline to Dec. 31, 2006 and respectfully suggest that the commission should consider the feasibility of moving that deadline to an even earlier date," the filing stated.

Motorola, a major supplier of set-top boxes, filed a comment suggesting the FCC kick the final date up to Nov. 1, 2006, to catch holiday shoppers. Motorola also urged the commission to enforce the tuner act to prevent further delays in freeing up the 700 MHz public safety spectrum, for which Motorola is poised to sell beaucoup radios.

The Consumer Electronics Association expressed a marked lack of enthusiasm for moving up the tuner-integration date because the time frame is too tight. Manufacturers need at least 18 to 24 months to integrate tuners into the production cycle, the CEA contends.

The organization also has a beef with a 13-and-under requirement, given the potential cost add-on of an ATSC tuner. Using estimates provided by the chip maker Zoran, the CEA in its filing said integrating an ATSC tuner would add around $65 to a small standalone device and between $80 and $120 to an existing one.

"Thirteen-inch color TV receivers sell at retail for $69 - $79, which is less than the increase in their cost projected by Zoran," the CEA stated.

ATI, another chip maker, submitted a comment stating that the cost of adding DTV reception capability to a TV set would run around $40 by the fall of 2006.

A filing from Disney stated that all new TV receivers should have ATSC tuner in them as soon as humanly possible.

"Although the smaller sets are undoubtedly lower cost, it seems intuitive that these sets also will be unlikely to be connected to cable and instead will be placed in viewers' kitchens, bathrooms, or will be used when viewers are traveling," the Disney filing stated. "For these sets to be sold with no capacity to receive a digital signal will only increase the number of sets that will need a converter box, or that will qualify for a subsidy, and will only increase viewer confusion about the digital transition."