FCC fines retailers over DTV labels


WASHINGTON -- The FCC slapped around retailers and TV set makers on Thursday, proposing more than $9 million in fines and consent decrees for digital television infractions.

The FCC wants to penalize set makers for selling TVs in America without digital tuners or labels telling consumers that their new sets might not work when the nation switches to digital transmissions in February. In addition, it issued fines for selling sets without the V-chip content-blocking device.

"The orders demonstrate the commission's commitment to strong enforcement in promoting the successful transition to digital television," the commission said.

The companies can appeal the fines to have them reduced or tossed out.

Sears, K-Mart and Wal-Mart were slapped with fines of about $1 million each for labeling violations, while Circuit City faces one for $712,000. Fry's Electronics, Target, Best Buy and CompUSA face fines ranging from $384,000 to $168,000 for similar offenses.

Syntax-Brillian and PreCor Inc. face fines of $1.27 million and $357,900, respectively, for violating the tuner rules. Polaroid Corp. faces a $775,000 fine and Proview Technology faces a $300,000 fine for V-chip violations.

In addition, the commission's enforcement bureau adopted seven consent decrees with seven electronics manufacturers resolving investigations of possible violations of V-chip rules. Those range from $1.7 million for LG Electronics to a low of $20,000 for Audiovox Corp.