The consumer electronics industries and broadcasters lined up as expected on the issue of advancing the DTV tuner mandate deadline (the mandate upheld by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts when he was on the D.C. court of appeals, by the way).
The FCC proposed last month to advance the date for TV's to include DTV tuners by six months, from July 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2006. It also proposed extending that mandate to TV's less than 13 inches in screen size.
The Consumer Electronics Association told the FCC in its comments that accelerating and expanding the schedule to include sets as small as 13 inches would disrupt the marketplace and raise the price on smaller sets, which would harm lower-income consumers.
For its part, the National Association of Broadcasters--joined by the industry spectrum watchdog group, Association for Maximum Service Television, applauded advancing the deadline, adding that "to ensure that consumers have such access during the crucial holiday and Super Bowl selling seasons, the Commission should explore the feasibility of an even earlier date," according to a summary of the comments from NAB.
As for little sets, NAB played the emergency communications card--one of its strong suits--saying that "extending the DTV tuner mandate to receivers with screen sizes less than 13” as soon as practicable would ensure that these sets and the unique benefits they provide during times of emergency will function in the post-transition environment."
NAB and CEA are the chicken and egg in the DTV transition debate, with broadcasters saying they need the sets to drive the cornucopia of digital offerings just waiting to burst forth, while set makers say they need the "bursting forth" before there is a market for the sets.
The FCC is in the middle trying to get the DTV transition moving so that it can reclaim analog spectrum, turn some of it over to emergency responders, and auction more to collect some needed money for the treasury.