FCC Strong-arming Retailers

Circuit City can't catch a break. The FCC just slapped the struggling retailer with a whopping $712,000 fine for violating an FCC rule. In order to forewarn consumers about the February blackout of analog TV, the FCC is requiring retailers to put up signs in stores that sell analog TVs. These signs will alert consumers that after the switch, their televisions will no longer work without converter boxes to receive broadcast signals. Seems like a good rule, right?

Ccimages Who wouldn't want a warning that your shiny new TV is only going to work for a few more months?

An article in Broadcasting & Cable had the following statement from Circuit City: "The commission has no direct jurisdiction over products aside from the operation of the tuning function itself," Circuit City said in a filing Tuesday, "and the Court of Appeals has been clear that jurisdiction over the tuning function is an insufficient basis for ancillary jurisdiction." 

Circuit City is joined by Best Buy, which was fined $280,000 for the same infraction. Think that's outrageous? Wal-Mart was fined $998,000.

To avoid the fine, all they all had to do was put signage indicting the analog TVs they were selling were analog-only. They can also pull all their analog sets from the shelves to avoid the fine. "My bad" just ain't cutting it with the FCC. Guess those guys don't really have a sense of humor.-Leslie Shapiro

Broadcasting & Cable