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FCC Advances DTV Tuner Mandate

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission advanced completion of its digital tuner mandate by four months to March 1, 2007, and not Dec. 2006 as some had proposed, and expanded the mandate’s scope to include sets measuring 13-inches and smaller.

Under the new schedule, every new TV set sold in the United States after February 2007 must include an over-the-air ATSC digital tuner. The previous rules, which included a phase-in requirement starting with the largest screen sizes first, would have required digital tuners in most sets by July 1, 2007, exempting sets with screen sizes measuring 13-inches and smaller.

As under the previous rules, all other phase-in deadlines remain, and monitor-only displays may continue to omit digital tuners if they do not include analog NTSC tuners.

The FCC said it removed the exemption on the smaller screen TV because portable, battery-powered TVs enable reception of news and public-safety information in times of emergency.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which had opposed advancing the TV mandate to Dec. 2006, applauded the March 1, 2007 date.

“We are pleased that the Commission acknowledged the need to provide certainty to manufacturers by accepting March 1, 2007 as the date by which TV receivers 13 to 24-inch sets must contain digital tuners,” the CEA said in a prepared statement. “This time period provides the certainty manufacturers need to plan and produce products to help complete the DTV transition.

“We also appreciate Chairman Martin’s acknowledgement of manufacturers’ and retailers’ original concerns regarding the issues posed in this proceeding. We will continue to work closely with the FCC as further actions are taken to help complete the transition.”

The National Association of Broadcasters also applauded the FCC’s action.

“We’re pleased that Chairman Martin and his colleagues have established an even more aggressive timeline for DTV tuner compliance in smaller television sets,” the NAB said in prepared statement. “This pro-consumer action sends the unmistakable signal to set manufactures that further delays in rolling out DTV receiving equipment are unacceptable.”