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Two Months After the Analog Ban - Not Too Much Different

May 1, 2007

Just how many more analog TVs do those stores have in their stock rooms?

It's been two months now since the FCC ban on the import or transport in interstate commerce of analog-only TVs, but there are still plenty of them to buy in stores. I did a survey of four local stores this morning; this is what I found:

Sears looked virtually the same as it did last month. More than 20 models of small (less than 25") analog TVs on display, and no warning labels or consumer alerts. (The FCC has just adopted mandatory warning labels for analog-only TVs, but they have not yet released the order, and the effective date was not mentioned.) I did not see any small digital CRT sets.

Next stop was Circuit City. They have reduced their model count of analog-only TVs from about 35 last month to 20 or so today. No warning labels or consumer alerts about the transition to the new ATSC digital TV standard. I did not see any small digital CRT sets.

Best Buy had cleared out most of their analog-only TVs by last month, so that was good. They still have a handful of small analog sets, mostly LCDs surprisingly. But no warning labels or consumer alerts anywhere. They do have a selection of small digital CRT TVs.

WalMart had both digital and analog small TVs for sale, mostly CRTs. They did have the FCC-mandated consumer alert label just below each analog TV. Good for them!

Interestingly, they had the same warning label below many of the digital CRT TVs as well! The regular label said the TV had a digital tuner and the consumer alert said the TV lacked a digital tuner and so would not be able to receive over-the-air signals after 2/17/09.

Clearly, there has been a failure of communication somewhere along the chain of command. Someone may be equating traditional 4:3 aspect ratio CRT direct-view TVs with "analog" TVs, even if a particular CRT model has been equipped with an ATSC digital tuner/demodulator.

I noticed the same thing with amazon.com's TV listings. They now have a separate "analog" TV category that also contains CRT TVs with digital tuners, and the listing on those digital TVs also now includes the FCC-mandated consumer alert.

Go figure.