D.C. Court Upholds FCC Tuner Mandate


Washington -- In a victory for broadcasters, a federal court here ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission is allowed to require TV-set manufacturers to include off-air digital tuners in nearly all new TV sets.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the FCC's tuner mandate was consistent with the agency's authority under the All Channel Receiver Act.

"The court's decision today upholding the FCC's DTV-tuner requirement is a milestone toward completing the DTV transition. Consumers buying TV sets will know that the receivers they buy will continue to receive all broadcast signals, even as broadcasting changes to digital," National Association of Broadcasters president Edward Fritts said in a prepared statement.

The FCC adopted the tuner mandate in August 2002 over the cost-concern objections raised by the Consumer Electronics Association. The CEA appealed the ruling to the D.C. Circuit.

The FCC adopted a phased-in approach. By July 2004, one-half of all sets with screens 36 inches or larger must have digital-TV tuners. Tuners must be included in all sets 13 inches and larger by July 1, 2007.

The tuner mandate also extends to VCRs and DVD recorders and players, also by July 1, 2007.