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FCC Proposes $3 Million in DTV Tuner Fines

The FCC is apparently very serious about enforcing its DTV tuner mandate.

The commission has issued its first two fines to companies that illegally shipped TV sets that don't contain a DTV tuner. The fines total nearly $3 million.

"The DTV tuner requirement promotes an important public policy goal of helping to speed the transition to digital television," said the FCC in proposing the fines. "And we therefore find violations of this requirement to be more egregious, in general, than many other types of equipment marketing cases that come before us."

The FCC phased in its DTV tuner mandate over the past couple of years with deadlines according to set size. As of March 1, however,  no TV set--or DVD player for that matter--can be shipped into or within the U.S. without being able to receive a broadcast DTV signal.

The Commission fined a company called Syntax-Brillian  $2,899,575 for importing over 72,000 TV's without tuners after their respective cut-off dates.  The FCC had to limit its fines to only about 22,000 of the most recently shipped receivers since there is a one-year statute of limitations.

The FCC also cited Regent U.S.A for shipping 2,179 non-compliant sets, though only 1,182 within the one-year statute of limitations, which figured out to a total fine of $63,650.

Attention electronics shippers: The FCC outlined a fine schedule it said it applied here and would apply to others caught violating the mandate.

0-1000 units: $50 per unit

1001-2500 units: $75 per unit

2501-5000 units: $100 per unit

5001-10,000 units: $125 per unit

10,001-20,000 units: $150 per unit

20,001-30,000 units: $175 per unit

30,001-40,000 units: $200 per unit

40,001-50,000 units: $225 per unit

50,001+ units: $250 per unit.

The FCC is also cracking down on retailers are not warning shoppers that analog sets on the shelves will not work for over-the-the air reception without a converter box starting in February 2009 .

As of May 25, all stores must prominently display that information.