CEA Sues FCC Over Tuner Mandate


The Consumer Electronics Association has gone to court to overturn federal
rules that gradually require inclusion of digital tuners in nearly all new TV

The CEA fought the mandate as both costly and ineffective while the Federal
Communications Commission was debating the issue earlier this year. After the
rules were adopted in August, the association promised a court battle, and it
took the first step Oct. 11 by filing suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
D.C. Circuit.

Under the rules, all new TV sets 13 inches and larger must include off-air
digital-TV tuners by July 2007. The phase-in begins in July 2004, when 50
percent of all new sets 36 inches and larger must have digital tuners.

FCC officials said the tuner mandate was necessary to advance the transition
to digital broadcasting.

In the two-page court filing, the CEA reiterated its view that the tuner
mandate was pointless because the vast majority of consumers rely on cable and
satellite and do not need -- and will never need -- off-air digital tuners,
which CEA expects will initially add at least $200 to the cost of TV sets.

The trade group's chief legal argument is that the commission incorrectly
asserted jurisdiction to impose a tuner mandate under the All Channel Receiver
Act of 1962.

FCC officials said the law accorded unambiguous authority to require
digital TV tuners.