Best Buy Challenges FCC Authority

A few months ago, it was widely reported that the FCC was fining several retailers of televisions, for not having proper markings on analog-only models, that the units would soon be useless without an add-on. Among the retailers fined were KMart, Circuit City, and Best Buy.

Back in October of last year, Best Buy had been reported as having removed the analog-only models from the sales floor, but apparently a few remained, or came back out. The FCC later levied some large fines and now the lawyers for Best Buy are challenging the rights of Best Buy to directly punish the  seven retailers found at fault.

from the report on Ars Technica

The nation’s biggest electronics retailer has told the Federal Communications Commission that the agency lacks the authority to punish Best Buy for screwing up its digital transition TV selling rules. “The Commission never before has claimed, asserted, or exercised direct or ancillary jurisdiction over retailers, or retail practices, of the nature that is asserted” by the FCC, Best Buy attorneys say. And the appliance giant charges that the Commission’s recent Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) holds the company to “a standard of flawless compliance.” That’s especially unfair, Best Buy complains, given that the FCC’s NAL also contains mistakes.

Since Best Buy’s proposed fine was only $280,000, this must be a situation where the retailer feels that the wrong done them far outweighs the cost of litigation. It is unusual for a lawsuit to come from a large corporation over a principle, and it will be interesting to see the outcome.

The FCC has long been thought to be a paper tiger by many, and this will test the reach of the tiger’s claws.

[tags] DTV transition, analog television sales, KMart, Circuit City, Best Buy, FCC, paper tiger, litigation [/tags]

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