FCC Fines Radio Shack For Selling Analog TVs With No Consumer Warning

The FCC is serious when they say they want retailers to warn consumers about purchasing analog TVs. This week they’ve announced fines against Radio Shack, HH Gregg, FYE, Fred Meyer Stores, Ultimate Electronics, and Boscov’s for selling TVs without a warning label.

The consumer alert rule states that retailers have to post a warning like this one from Kmart’s website:

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 working in stores and surfing the web to make sure stores aren’t selling obsolete TVs to hapless rabbit-ear using folks. Meanwhile, Best Buy has stopped selling analog TVs outright.

Retailers vs. FCC: fines for warning-free analog TVs as ban draws near [Ars Technica]


Edit Your Comment

  1. WV.Hillbilly says:

    Many of us hapless rabbit-ear using folks are using them with our 50″ plasma screens.
    Free hdtv rules.

  2. ChrisC1234 says:

    Does the same rule apply for other devices which have TV tuners? I bought a Series 2 TiVo a few months ago (and I already LOVE it). However, I don’t think it has a digital tuner, and when the switch to dtv takes place, I ‘m stuck with a piece of useless trash. Nobody told me (nor was their any indication at the store) that this unit does not contain a dtv tuner.

  3. j-yo says:

    I don’t understand how Radio Shack still manages to stay in business or why people shop there. The merchandise quality is awful. Also, the last several times I went to Radio Shack (at various locations) the salespeople were all pimply faced teenagers who didn’t have a clue about product information and they were all very slimy in trying to “upgrade” your purchase (and not very suave in doing so, either). I have nothing against pimply faced teenagers, having been one myself, but the ones at Radio Shack are obviously poorly trained and only planning to be there for a short time.

  4. Munsoned says:

    The FCC dinged a LOT of companies over this in the past month or two (Best Buy, Circuit City, a bunch of online retailers). This is not a “Radio Shack” problem, it’s an industry-wide problem.

  5. snwbrder0721 says:

    Why can’t we get other gov’t agencies to get this serious about things that actually matter like food safety or pollution?

  6. vex says:

    I’m not sure how radioshack stays in business either. Last time I was there they were selling a narrow supply of electronic goods and toys. A few TVs, stereo systems, and electronic kids toys. Their actual electronic parts selection is abysmal, and much of it has been moved to the back room so you have to ask for it specifically. They seem to be becoming a cellphone store, because there were phones everywhere and their reps kept trying to sell me one when all I wanted was a couple of resistors.

  7. Shadowfire says:

    I’m just curios… how are people getting HD signals on rabbit ears? More than likely it’s where I live, but I can’t get anything on rabbit ears. :|

  8. consumerd says:


    LOL are you serious? Just give me my HDTV who cares if the food is spoiled or no good! I will just go buy mcdonalds anyway…


  9. benko29 says:

    i’m having a hard time seeing why this is such a big deal. first off, analog TV isn’t obselete yet. the 2009 date is right there. also, with digital cable, you get the convertor box from the cable company if you need it. it seems a little strange that they’re making it up to be this huge abrupt halt of analog TV service, when in reality there’s still almost a year and a half until dtv takes over, and most customers needn’t even worry about that, you simply begin to use a digital tuner box on your “obselete” TV. all this is doing is making people believe their technology is way out of date so that they run out and buy a new TV.

  10. toddkravos says:

    Is February 17, 2009 still THE date?

    I thought I saw/read something that it was extended until 2012, yah know – so everyone can watch the end of the world….

  11. AD8BC says:

    For those with either digital or analog cable, there should be little to worry about. Digital cable boxes and satellite boxes should still convert the signal to analog for your old TVs.

    For those with analog cable connections, fear not! The FCC is not demanding that the cable companies carry the signals digitally as well. All of the cable companies I have heard of are planning on continuing analog cable, and they will do the conversion from analog to digital at their head end. Most cable companies pick up local broadcast channels over the air with a regular receiver and then modulate and amplify the signal and transmit it down the cable.

    Eventually I suspect the cable companies will go all digital and require the rental of a digital box… but probably not soon.

  12. ColoradoShark says:

    If you get your TV from cable, no problem.
    TV over the air? Problem. I hope you didn’t buy the lifetime or three year service.
    TiVo rocks!

  13. Lazlo Nibble says:

    @snwbrder0721: Improving food safety and reducing pollution don’t clear the way for the government to make billions of dollars auctioning off freed-up chunks of wireless spectrum. Switching off analog TV transmissions does.

  14. runciblerabbit says:

    I work for Radio Shack and while I think it’s generally a shitty company, they have actually been very proactive about tagging analog tuners with the FCC warning. In fact,any price tag you print out for a product that has an analog tuner, including Tivo, VCR’s, TV, etc. automatically has the analog tuner warning, which is very similar to the one in the article, if not identical.

  15. EvilSquirrel says:

    The only thing I find wrong with Radio Shack is how the company tries to compete in areas they have no business being in. If I need a fuse, some cabling, or some solder, I would probably go to Radio Shack. That is what they are good at selling, especially if I need the said things in under an hour. I have no idea why they are even trying to sell televisions, cell phones, or DVD players. They simply can’t compete in these areas. I would rather buy these things at Best Buy than at Radio Shack.

    Anyway, I thought they had to stop making televisions without digital tuners last year. What are these things still doing on the shelves?

  16. scoosdad says:

    @Shadowfire: You don’t need a “special” antenna to receive over the air digital or HDTV. In fact, if you’re in a location where the analog over the air signal is less than perfect, you may still pick up the digital version of your local stations perfectly with a mediocre antenna.

    BTW, “digital” is not necessarily high definition. Digital is just the transmission mode, and it could contain either a standard definition or a high definition, widescreen picture, depending on the program being transmitted. Most major broadcast networks are running wide screen high def programs during their evening schedules and in late night.

    So don’t spend any extra money on an antenna that advertises itself as being for “digital” or “High Definition”. There’s no difference in the antenna, really.

  17. scoosdad says:

    @toddkravos: Yes, that date in February 2009 is a firm date now. The TV stations have basically been told by the FCC, “stop whining and just do it!”.

  18. Sidecutter says:

    @jrstren: If you RTA, you’ll find that they clearly stated that it was not JUST Readio Shack.