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Commission hears from opposing forces on DTV tuner timetable

With billions in sales, manufacturing resources and schedules and the DTV transition in the balance, manufacturers, broadcasters and industry trade groups have filed comments with the FCC expressing their support or disapproval of a tentative commission decision to accelerate the date by which television sets must include a DTV tuner.

On June 9, the commission issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it proposed accelerating the current mandated timetable for the inclusion of a DTV tuner in television sets of all sizes from July 1, 2007 to no later than Dec. 31, 2006. It further proposes to extend the digital tuner requirements to receivers with screen sizes of less than 13ins.

Urging the commission to accelerate the DTV tuner mandate from July 2007 to late 2006 were parties like the Walt Disney Company, the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television. Those filing comments opposing changing the timetable include the Consumer Electronics Association, the Consumer Electronics Retailers’ Association, Sharp Electronics and Philips Electronics North America.

In its joint filing with the commission, the NAB and MSTV contended that advancing the DTV tuner mandate to late 2006 will assure that small DTV sets are available to consumers during the holiday and Super Bowl buying seasons. The groups also urged the commission to extend the DTV tuner mandate to portable sets as soon as possible.

The associations told the commission that accelerating the deadline was in the public interest because it would shorten the time left during which consumers could buy analog set and reduce the number of digital-to-analog converters that will be needed when the analog broadcast service ceases.

In their filing, the CEA and CERC opposed accelerating the timetable, saying no evidence justified the move. CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro pointed to growing DTV sales year over year as evidence that the existing timetable is working.

In their filing, CEA and CERC also stated that the FCC should refrain from making any rulings regarding the inclusion of digital tuners in new receivers with screen sizes less than 13in until manufacturers, retailers and the commission adequately are able to examine the impact of the small chassis products that currently are subject to the commission's tuner requirements.

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