FCC acts to protect consumers in DTV transition
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the FCC took two important steps on the road to the Digital Television Transiition, set for February 17, 2009. First, it released its own version of a guide that consumers can use to figure out if they need to take action in advance of the 2009 cutover to change their TV set or to get a set-top converter box. These are topics that I recently blogged for you. You can find the FCC publication here.Second, the FCC initiated enforcement action against five of the nation’s top electronics retailers for failing to properly label their analog television sets. Federal law now requires retailers to disclose that a set is analog, and provides a specific disclosure statement that retailers must use. The specifics of this requirement were discussed in my earlier blog on the topic. My guess is that, while the FCC is taking a tough enforcement stance against the retail sector for failure to comply with the labeling law, that the FCC’s real interest in initiating enforcement activites is less about assigning guilt and collecting fines, and much more about ensuring that television sets offered for sale are properly labeled if they use analog technology. Once the FCC announces an enforcement action, the next step is that the entity accused of violating the rules gets to provide its side of the story. Typically, most enforcement actions of this type would end with the FCC and the entity agreeing on a set of outcomes. There may or may not be a finding that an entity actually violated the law. Again, the most important thing is that if you decide you want to buy an analog television set, you must have that set hooked up to cable or satellite in order to receive service after February 17, 2009, OR you must be willing to augment that set with a set-top converter box that will translate digital over-the-air signals into analog ones.