FCC To Retailers: "Warn Consumers About Analog TVs"

Retailers are trying to unload their dwindling stocks of analog-only TVs before the big switch to digital in 2009, but the FCC says that they have to place warnings in “close proximity” to models which will require a converter box to receive broadcast signals after 2009 or face the wrath that is FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s laser gun of doom. Just kidding, he actually has a pickax of happiness. Anyhow, Kmart seems to have gotten the message, they’ve posted this warning on a 15″ Sylvania analog TV:

CONSUMER ALERT: This television receiver has only an analog broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products. For more information, call the Federal CommunicationsCommission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital television website at: http://www.dtv.gov.

The FCC supposedly has undercover agents surfing the web and shopping in-store, on the prowl for analog TVs that are not clearly marked as such. Fear the FCC. The warnings come after retailers promised that federal regulations were not necessary, then showed that they were by ignoring the voluntary program. —MEGHANN MARCO

FCC is warning retailers on DTV warnings [Digital TV Facts]
FCC Warns Retailers To Label Analog-Only Sets Online [Broadcasting and Cable]
(Photo: Kmart)

RELATED: The Conversion to Digital Television Is Going To Be Unpleasant


Edit Your Comment

  1. SOhp101 says:

    For once the FCC is doing something sensible. Good for them.

  2. protest says:

    when i bought my cheap floor model tv from Sears last year the salespeople were actually trying to persuade me to buy a flatscreen “digital” tv because of this whole thing. too bad they were so obviously trying to make a buck. i told them “this is a $150 tv, do you really think it will even make it to 2009?” another thought i had later was ‘God i hope i’m not still this broke in 3 years to have to keep my $150 tv.’

  3. FLConsumer says:

    When they finally shut off analog entirely (including over cable without a box), I’ll finally turn off my TV sets for the last time and never turn them back on again. I’m sure I can use the extra space in the house and have no doubt that my quality of life will improve. Certainly my choices for entertainment will improve as I’ll be seeing more live local performances.

  4. Triteon says:

    There is no reason to upgrade to digital today purely to prepare for 2009. Wait it out and let the costs decline.
    I’m also now taking bets on the most popular holiday gift of December 2008.

  5. acambras says:

    Right now I’m not in the market for a new tv, so I’m putting this item in my “cross that bridge when I come to it” pile.

  6. B says:

    I’m thinking of buying a TV now just so I don’t have to pay for a digital tuner that I don’t need.

  7. ExecutorElassus says:

    Where’s the Center for Consumer Freedom in all this? Don’t they normally protest when some fat-ass federal bureaucracy tries to manipulate consumers into buying certain products for no good reason?

    Why are the feds saying that consumers are too stupid to make their own choices when buying a television? I think it’s because they’re beholden to radical interest groups who are trying to destroy cable TV in retaliation for their DRM efforts.

  8. Squeezer99 says:

    so basically buy tv’s that have an ATSC tuner and you are fine?

  9. MeanMachine says:

    Undercover FCC agents huh? Like they have uniforms on sometimes? Like the Maytag man?

  10. ribex says:

    I think some of the very few TVs to truly suffer from the change will be the smallest, portable TVs. I have a Sharper Image handheld (3″?) unit. This is not the type of item that I’d hook a converter box up with :)

    Regular TVs that stay in one place and are not battery powered will be fine by the time the change comes – I’m getting tired of “the sky is falling” mentality about this issue.

  11. nidolke says:

    By 2009 we won’t even need televisions, it’ll probably all be online by then. I’m saving my cash.

  12. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Keep in mind that this is basically government mandated DRM with the side effect of looking nicer. “Ooh shiny”, indeed.

    As an aside, I quit watching TV about 7 years ago. If there is a show I like (maybe I catch it at a friends house), I’ll buy the DVDs or download them, if there is a movie I like, I’ll buy it or rip it from a friend’s DVD.

  13. Michael Bauser says:

    I saw this warning at circuitcity.com last week, on a portable TV! (I was actually looking for emergency radios, and the TV showed up in my search results).

    Does anybody think that anyone would actually buy a digital adaptor for a $30 portable TV? I’m picturing a big black box duct-taped to the side of the portable.

  14. James Cooper - Chief Geek at TJSL says:

    I would like to know what percentage of Americans have cable, satellite or some other converter box type service at this time anyway. Frankly, I’m sure I’d have fun with a new TV but my cable box saves me from any “panic.” (that not having TV could cause panic is a bit sad anyway…)

  15. aka Cat says:

    @ribex: Aw crud. It hadn’t even occurred to me that my little Sears Binoc (bought in ’82 or ’83) will finally be completely obsolete.

  16. notallcompaniesarebad says:


    “Keep in mind that this is basically government mandated DRM with the side effect of looking nicer. “Ooh shiny”, indeed.”

    Explain. I record off over the air HD into straight up mpeg files that i can do whatever I want with (I’ve watched it on my phone after dialing back the bitrate a tad). Where is the DRM? If I’m interpolating correctly, OTA (the one area the gov’t can actually make companies do something) is the only 100% DRM free HD distribution channel

  17. sp3nc3 says:

    Just because current TVs with NTSC tuners will not be able to receive over-the-air broadcasts in a couple of years does not make them obsolete by a long shot. As stated in Kmart’s consumer alert, they’ll still work fine with satellite/cable broadcasts, as well as DVD players, game consoles, and (shudder) VCRs.

  18. waffle iron says:

    I work for Sears (corporate sibling of Kmart) in Electronics and recently I had the pleasure of putting up these signs next to all of our older televisions. It was corporate mandate that we get those signs up as of last week because there were some Sears stores that were cited by the FCC and their fines can run around 15k for a single incident and almost 100k for ongoing noncompliance. Our manager even had to take pictures of the signs being up and email them to corporate.

    The fun part that you probably haven’t read is that as of the beginning of the year, they dropped the size cutoff for televisions with tuners needing to have an ATSC tuner. Previously it was that any TV 24″ and up with any kind of tuner (NTSC) needed an ATSC tuner. Now it’s that way for all devices with tuners in current production. Because of that all the DVD recorders and DVD/VCR combo units don’t have cable (coax) inputs or outputs and can only record from line inputs (composite RCA). Good luck trying to find a plain jane VCR because no one wants to sell a $70 recorder with a $100 digital tuner.

  19. FLConsumer says:

    I’m still waiting for the first hurricane / natural disaster to hit an area. Forget watching DTV on any of your portable sets — they can’t receive it. Additionally, DTV requires a stronger signal to get a picture than analog does. Great move guys.

  20. bnuk013 says:

    I know Comcast is phasing in digital service as well. Is that something that will always require a seperate box or can newer TVs control digital cable?

  21. Havok154 says:

    I’d rather get the separate box. Just like 90% of other products out there, the “all-in-one” approach will work but you cut the quality and quantity of features down drastically.

  22. shades_of_blue says:

    There are rumors of a TV card standard, which will allow newer tv sets to feature a plug-in digital tuner from your cable company. No more ugly cablebox, no more dual remotes or switching between remote sources to power them on and adjust the two. Good move on their part, and about time. Why they never did this when HD sets first began to appear, who knows, but I’m sure greed had to do with it.

    My next set will be an LCD Monitor ‘TV’, with true 1080P, 8ms refresh and tunerless. Already got a candidate picked out, afterwards I’ll build an MCE box to match or maybe not. I don’t watch much TV these days, and mainly download the few I do.

  23. superbmtsub says:

    It says EDTV on the pic. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought EDTV (aka 480p) was the lowest form of HDTV.

  24. ChrisPC24 says:

    I’ve noticed CompUSA actually prints this warning out when you buy anything with an analog tuner. I saw someone buying an analog TV tuner card one day, and the warning printed with their receipt.

  25. The Stork says:

    @superbmtsub: EDTV is not HDTV. it is simply the resolution of SDTV (480 lines) with a progressive signal rather than an interlaced one. It’s “DVD quality” rather than “high definition.”

    The importance, of course, is not the display but the tuner. You can sell a 480i television, but if it has a tuner then there has to be an ATSC tuner.