FCC doesn't cancel out fines


"The Commission’s DTV-related enforcement efforts have focused on protecting consumers from unknowingly buying televisions that will not allow consumers to enjoy the full benefits of the digital transition," said the Commission in a release. "The orders demonstrate the Commission’s commitment to strong enforcement in promoting the successful transition to digital television."

Nailed for improper DTV labeling — or more to the point, failing to warn consumers of analog-only equipment still on the shelves — were Sears Roebuck/K-Mart ($1.096M); Wal-Mart Stores/Sam’s West ($992K); Circuit City ($712K); Fry’s Electronics ($384K); Target ($296K); Best Buy ($280K); and CompUSA ($168K); for a total of $3.928M. All seven were in the form of consent decrees, which usually means that the companies admit no guilt, but agree to make a donation to the US Treasury and take measures to correct the activities they do not admit to engaging in.

Hits for violations involving the importation and interstate shipment of analog-only televisions included Syntax-Brillian ($1,266,100) and Precor Inc. ($357.9K), a total of $1.624M. Two other companies were nailed for failure to upgrade V-Chips, including Polaroid Corporation ($775K) and Proview Technology ($300K), for a total of $1.075M.

RBR/TVBR observation: The lesson here, of course, is this: If you have any benchmark or requirement of any kind to meet that is related to the DTV transition, we suggest you meet it. For broadcasters, the biggest sticking point will likely be the airing of educational PSAs. Broadcasters, of course, have every reason to wish for a smooth DTV transition, and we have long anticipated that as a group, television operators will not need regulatory motivation but will rather lead the way to 2/17/09.

But if for any reason your station is considering shirking on PSAs, we suggest that concept be reconsidered before FCC starts expanding its enforcement efforts to this area.