The FCC amended its rules to move the date on which all TV receivers must include the capability to receive digital television signals forward four months to March 1, 2007 and to apply the tuner requirement to all television receivers, regardless of their size. This action is intended to further the Commission’s efforts to ensure that consumers are able to receive off- the- air digital broadcast television services as soon as possible.
The digital television reception requirement, which is also often termed the DTV tuner requirement, is being implemented on a schedule that applies it first to large screen receivers and then to progressively smaller screen sets and other devices that receive TV signals, such as VCRs and digital video recorders. This phase- in plan is intended to allow manufacturers to realize increasing economies of scale with production volume, so that digital tuner costs will be lower when the tuners are required in smaller sets. On July 1, 2004, the tuner requirement was applied to 50% of large sets (screen sizes 36” and larger), and last July (July 1, 2005), the tuner requirement was applied to all large sets and to 50% of mid- size sets (25”- 36”). Beginning March 1, 2006, DTV tuners will be required in all mid- size sets as well. With the change adopted in this Second Report and Order, the final step in the phase- in plan will now require that all new TV sets in all size ranges and other TV receivers include a DTV tuner beginning March 1, 2007. (Previously, the deadline for small sets (13”- 24”) and for other TV receivers was July 1, 2007).
The Commission also extended the DTV tuner requirement to new TV receivers screen sizes less than 13” on the same schedule as other TV receivers. (Previously, the tuner requirement did not apply to very small sets (smaller than 13”). In this regard, the Commission noted the particular value of these portable, typically battery- powered products for enabling the reception of news and public safety information in times of emergency.