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EchoStar Gets Approval for Analog Tuner-Less DVR

In continuing with its plan to completely eliminate U.S. analog television broadcasting by Sept. 1 next year, the FCC has given a green light to EchoStar Technologies to market a DVR lacking an analog TV tuner.

This was in the form of a Media Bureau Order(DA 13-2010) which grants EchoStar Technologies LLC's “unopposed request for waiver of the analog tuner requirements in FCC rules Section 15.117(b) to allow EchoStar to import, market, and sell two models of the Channel Master K77, a high-definition Internet-enabled over-the-air digital video recorder (DVR) that does not include an analog broadcast tuner.”

One of the commenters, Ness Electronics, commented, “[o]ur market studies demonstrate that low cost products that provide consumers with the ability to combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities, such as the Channel Master K77, are needed to satisfy consumer demand.”

Channel Master and David Zatz also filed comments supporting EchoStar's waiver request.

All full-power TV stations have converted to digital transmissions. The only analog TV stations still on the air are low-power operations, and these must convert to digital by Sept. 1, 2015.

In deciding to grant EchoStar a waiver of the analog tuner requirements, the FCC Order noted:

“We find it significant that there was no opposition to the waiver by low-power broadcasters, the only group of television broadcasters still transmitting analog signals that arguably could be impacted by the grant of this waiver. Nonetheless, we have carefully considered the potential impact on the remaining low-power television licensees and their viewers. We find that waiver in this case will not negatively impact consumers’ access to analog television signals. Channel Master noted that inclusion of an analog broadcast tuner is unnecessary to ensure consumers’ access to analog low-power television signals because ‘consumers [who connect their Channel Master devices to televisions] can still access analog channels through their television tuners,' which are required under Commission rules to have analog tuners that consumers can use to receive any analog broadcast or cable channels that they wish to receive.”

The FCC previously granted a request from TiVo, Inc. for waiver of the analog tuner requirement.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.