FCC Might Take Up DTV-Tuner Issue

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The consumer-electronics industry is bracing for possible action by the
Federal Communications Commission next month on mandating the inclusion of
off-air digital-TV tuners in nearly all new TV sets.

FCC sources said Monday that the digital-TV-tuner issue might come up at the
agency's Aug. 8 public meeting but stressed that no decision had been made.

'We've heard that it could be [on the agenda], no confirmation that it will
be,' said Jeff Joseph, a spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association.

The CEA and key members, such as Thomson Multimedia, oppose a
digital-TV-tuner mandate. In addition to claiming that the commission has no
legal authority to impose such a mandate, the CEA and Thomson said digital-TV
tuners would add $200 each to the price of analog TV sets 27 inches and
smaller.

'The costs associated with DTV reception capability . would dramatically
increase the price of today's largest-selling televisions, i.e., under 27
[inches],' Thomson said in a July 24 letter to the FCC.

In April, FCC chairman Michael Powell unveiled a voluntary
digital-TV-transition plan that included a phased-in approach to the inclusion
of digital-TV tuners, but on July 12, the CEA repeated its position that a
digital-TV-tuner mandate was costly and unnecessary.

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