CEA Sues FCC on Tuner Mandate


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

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 took the first step on 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 DTV 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 — an off-air digital tuner. The association expects the tuners initially will add at least $200 to the cost of a TV set.

The CEA's chief legal argument is that the FCC incorrectly asserted jurisdiction to impose a tuner mandate under the All Channel Receiver Act of 1962. FCC officials said the law provided unambiguous authority to require DTV tuners