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FCC Slaps CE Industry With Digital TV Fines

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined CE retailers and manufacturers who have allegedly not heeded its mandates on the DTV transition.

Specifically, the orders issued earlier this month included seven Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) against retail chains for alleged violations of its DTV labeling requirements, two NALs for alleged violations of the DTV tuner mandate and two NALs for alleged violations of the V-Chip mandate.

Those named in the order will have 30 days to respond to the FCC.

For labeling violations, seven retail chains were slapped with NALs totaling $3.9 million. This was for failing to post labels on analog televisions warning consumers that the sets did not include a digital tuner and would not receive over-the-air broadcasts after Feb. 17, 2009, the FCC said.

Those chains included the following:

  • Sears, Roebuck, K-Mart, $1,096,000;
  • Wal-Mart Stores/Sam’s West; $992,000.
  • Circuit City Stores, $712,000;
  • Fry’s Electronics, $384,000;
  • Target, $296,000
  • Best Buy, $280,000
  • CompUSA, $168,000

Retailers reached by TWICE for comment were furious that the FCC would seek such action after several of the chains had taken aggressive steps working with the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to educate the public on the DTV transition and the government TV converter box coupon program.

(For reaction by some of the retailers who were fined, see coverage at

Meanwhile, Syntax Brillian was slapped with an NAL totaling $1.266 million for failing to include digital tuners in DTV sets. Precor was assessed $357,000 for the same infraction.

The FCC said the digital tuner rule was established to restrict “the importation and interstate shipment of analog-only televisions, and helps protect consumers from purchasing televisions that cannot receive digital signals.”

Representatives for Syntax Brillian could not be reached for comment.

Two NALs were issued for violations of the FCC’s V-Chip rules.

Those issued NAL’s for alleged V-Chip violations included Polaroid for $775,000 and Proview Technology for $300,000.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau said it adopted consent decrees with seven electronics manufacturers resolving investigations of possible violations of the V-Chip rules.

The investigations examined whether the manufacturers had complied with the Commission’s rule requiring that consumers’ television receivers be capable of adapting to changes in the content advisory rating system.

The consent decrees, which reflect the specific factual circumstances of each case, include significant voluntary contributions as well as compliance measures to avoid future violations, the FCC said.

Examples of compliance measures include training of employees in FCC rules, fixing non-compliant television receivers already on the market, reviewing design specifications and testing equipment for compliance with FCC rules, and reporting periodically to the Commission to verify compliance.

Those issued V-Chip consent decrees included the following:

  • LG Electronics, $1,700,000
  • Philips Consumer Electronics, $450,000
  • Sanyo, $375,000
  • Vizio, 370,000
  • Panasonic, $320,000
  • Westinghouse Digital Electronics, $210,000
  • Audiovox, $20,000