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March 26, 2008

Could Your DTV2009 Analog-To-Digital Converter Box Be Faulty? Microtune Says So

microtune_logo.jpgMicrotune, a company that makes tuners for some of the analog-to-digital converter boxes, says it has tested 5 NTIA-certified converter boxes not containing its tuners, and found problems with all of them. Revealed in a letter to the NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information Administration), private testing by the company revealed "numerous and pronounced test failures" that could lead to "the loss of television reception in large areas of many metropolitan areas throughout the United States."

Microtune president Jim Fontaine said all five boxes were bought off the shelves although he declined to identify who the manufacturer's of the supposed faulty boxes are. Microtune has called for the NTIA to expand testing of all converter boxes to ensure they all comply to minimum standard and decertify those that aren't up to snuff.

Because decertification of boxes that contain rival tuners would benefit Microtune, we're all wondering if this is some kind of sick marketing ploy, but the company says that anyone can come and test their boxes, giving a guarantee of complicity with NTIA standards.

digital_television.JPGThis wasn't the only case of "converter boxes under fire" today as the Community Broadcasters Association asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put a stop to "the marketing of DTV converter boxes that block analog signals." They say that the court action is to protect the business of low-power local television stations, citing a 1962 law that forced the FCC to make sure that "all television receivers shipped in interstate commerce, or imported into the United States, for sale or resale to the public be capable of receiving all channels allocated to television broadcasting." Unfortunately, analog-to-digital converter boxes approved under the NTIA's TV Coupon program cannot have an analog tuner according to government specifications, a direct violation of the cited law.

Some local stations and even network affiliates will not be converting to digital in 2009, meaning that those that use the current NTIA-approved boxes will not have access to those stations. Many in the television industry are critical of the court action, saying that a positive resolution for the Community Broadcaster's Association would do little more than impose new costs on consumers to access services they probably don't and won't use. The FCC hasn't commented yet, but we'll keep you updated.

Read More in: Digital TV Transition 2009

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Posted by Justin Davey at March 26, 2008 10:04 PM

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