US media regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined two companies a total of nearly $3m after ruling they shipped television sets that did not incorporate digital tuners. Under phased-in FCC rules, fully in place since March 1, devices containing analogue television receivers cannot be imported into the US, or shipped within it, unless they incorporate tuners "capable of receiving the signals of DTV broadcast stations over-the-air".
The FCC ruled that Syntax-Brillian imported and then shipped more than 72,000 sets without digital tuners, and fined the company $2.9m. Also fined was Regent USA, which the FCC said had shipped 2,179 sets; its fine totalled $63,650.
The FCC said it would impose fines on companies based on the number of units shipped—the first 1,000 units would be fined at $50 per unit, rising to $250 per unit for more than 50,000 units shipped.
"The DTV tuner requirement was intended to facilitate the transition to digital television by promoting the availability of DTV reception equipment and to protect consumers by ensuring that their television receivers will provide off-the-air television reception of digital signals just as they have provided off-the-air television reception of analogue signals," said the FCC.
The FCC also made clear it would not tolerate electrical retailers selling analogue sets without a necessary consumer alert warning purchasers that the equipment would not work after the US digital switchover date of February 17, 2009. Fines of up to $97,500 per infraction would be imposed, warned the FCC.
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