Two DTV Makers Violate Tuner Mandate

Two up-and-coming DTV makers are in the doghouse. The Federal Communications Commission has fined them for failing to build digital tuners into their flat-panel sets

In one case, at least, the fine is more than a slap on the hand. Syntax-Brillian (marketer of the Olevia brand) got socked for $2,899,575, while Regent U.S.A. (Maxent) got off relatively easy with a fine of $63,650. The difference lies in the number of affected sets: 22,069 for Syntax, but only 891 for Regent.

Both are "apparently liable," in fed-speak, for "willful and repeated violations," importing the tuner-less sets and transporting them against state lines. The investigation that led to the fines was triggered by complaints to the FCC Enforcement Bureau in August 2006.

The DTV tuner mandate has been phasing in for years, starting with the largest sets and working its way down to the smallest. All are now covered, plus other products such as video recorders. Building tuners into sets is part of the DTV transition, which will culminate in the discontinuation of analog broadcasting in 2009. Some griping has accompanied the mandate, with critics charging that it needlessly inflates DTV prices for consumers who don't need (or can't get) over-the-air signals.

The TWICE report lists some affected Regent models.

So there's one more reason to buy an established brand: they obey the law.

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