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NTIA Home Manufacturers’ Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Can BER testing or subjective visual testing be done to meet the performance specifications for several items in Technical Appendix 1, such as Item #8--RF Dynamic Range? 

Because manufacturers may not be able to submit BER tests that can be verified by NTIA because NTIA’s technical specifications do not permit a digital output on the converter box, manufacturers are given the option of using subjective visual testing to comply with several specifications, including Item #8, and Item #9, Phase Noise.  Visual testing is required to comply with Item #13, Burst Noise, and Item # 14, Field Ensembles.

In the footnote on page 1 of Technical Appendix 1, NTIA recommends the use of an expert viewer to do visual tests.

2.  What are the requirements for Closed Captioning?    
     
Please see Question and Answer Number 42.

3.  How should EAS be handled?

There is no broadcast standard from the FCC at this time, nor is there a requirement that EAS be inserted in the PSIP stream.  In analog broadcasts, EAS is usually handled on a "baseband" basis whereby the station manually interrupts the video and audio stream and inserts an EAS crawl and applicable audio.  The FCC requires that EAS be transmitted on all program streams and the CECB must be able to display the EAS on all program streams or sub-channels broadcast.

4.  How are parental controls to be handled (i.e., just display the program rating or also block a program)?

Parental controls are transmitted specifically to allow a viewer to block content so the converter is required to both display ratings and also block programs. 

5.  What are the requirements for the remote control described in Technical Appendix 1 (required remote)?
 
The remote control must be able to control all of the features of the CECB and come supplied with batteries.  The CECB shall use remote control technology in common use so a consumer with a “programmable” or “universal” remote control (not required to be supplied with the CECB) will, at the least, be able to program a universal remote control to turn the CECB on and off and change the channels.  Remote control codes commonly used in audio and video equipment are available from suppliers of universal or programmable remote controls.

6.  Please clarify whether all of the PSIP functions described in A/65C must be provided.

PSIP transmission is required by the FCC.  The CECB must be capable of accepting PSIP, which includes the program guide and applicable PIDS and rating tables. The CECB is required to process and display PSIP information as contained in ATSC A/65C, as specified in Technical Appendix 1, item #3, PSIP Processing.

7. Will you post manufacturers and retailers when they become available?  Will there be a specific site to check on this? When would you expect the first posting?

NTIA will provide consumer information including a list of certified makes/models of converter boxes and retail information.  This information should be available in early 2008 when we will also be taking consumer requests for coupons.

While manufacturers are in the process of having their test results reviewed and sample converters evaluated, NTIA will not disclose that information to the public.  Please see Final Rule 301.5.  (www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frnotices/2007/DTVCouponFinalRule_031207.pdf)

8.  In Technical Appendix 1, item 15, there is a Criteria A or B for echo performance. Is one better than the other?

The Final Rule permits manufacturers to choose Criteria A or B - NTIA does not express a preference for either table.  In their test results, manufacturers should specify whether the model was tested against Criteria A or Criteria B.  If Criteria B is chosen, manufacturers should identify which 37 of the 50 field ensembles were tested successfully.  See NTIA's Notice, published on May 30, 2007 in the Federal Register, (www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frnotices/2007/DTVmanufacturer_053007.htm)

9.  Do you have any official name of this box?

There is no official name.  Each manufacturer is expected to identify its products by commercial identification, for example, brand and model number.  Please refer to our Final Rule for more information.  The term used there for converters that NTIA has determined are eligible for purchase with coupons is the "Coupon Eligible Converter Box" or "CECB."

10.  Can we use your NTIA logo on our product or packaging?

Please see Question and Answer #48 below.

11.  In Technical Appendix 1, item 15, is the intention of the requirement to test  Criteria A or B with a single static echo  or a quasi-static echo with a 0.05 Hz Doppler shift?  If the intention is a true static echo, then there is no phase relation defined.does that mean that any phase can be used?

NTIA recommends that tests for compliance with the single static echo requirements should be performed using the Doppler-shift recommendations of ATSC Document A/74, section 4.5.3.1.2.  Those recommendations call for the use of a Doppler shift of 0.05 Hz, or the slowest Doppler shift above 0.05 Hz that is available on the equipment used for the tests.

12.  In Technical Appendix 1, item 15, do only the specific points in Tables 4 or 5 need to be tested?

For single static echo tests, only the echo delay values listed in Table 4 (when using Criteria A) or Table 5 (when using Criteria B)  in Technical Appendix 1 should be tested.

13.  Should the multipath field ensembles be tested at all RF frequencies?   Do the  single static echo tests have to be performed at all RF frequencies?

The law requires converter boxes to contain features or functions necessary to "enable a consumer to convert any channel broadcast in the digital television service into a format that the consumer can display on television receivers designed to receive and display signals only in the analog television service."  Therefore, the intent of all of the RF specifications is that the requirements be met on every applicable TV channel.  While equalizer performance is unlikely to be directly affected by the channel selection on the TV, channel-dependent (i.e., frequency-dependent) signal impairments introduced by the tuner could cause a failure to correctly process field ensembles or single static echoes  that might otherwise marginally pass the specification.  Consequently, it is recommended that the manufacturer perform tests using channel selections that maximize signal impairments in the tuner, based on knowledge of the design of the tuner.  For example, manufacturers may choose to submit test reports that demonstrate compliance with the field ensemble requirements on at least one TV channel and compliance with the static echo requirements on at least three TV channels, including one in the low-VHF band, one in the high-VHF band, and one in UHF.  Manufacturers may choose to submit test reports that demonstrate compliance by alternative methods.

14. Technical Appendix 1 of the Final Rule, Specification Number 14 (Field Ensembles) states "Equipment shall demonstrate that it can successfully demodulate, with two or fewer errors, 30 of the 50 field ensembles available from ATSC in conjunction with ATSC A/74." How are these errors to be counted?

Any disturbance (error) in the video or audio of up to one second in duration should be counted as a single error. A disturbance (error) in the video or audio with a duration exceeding one second, but no more than two seconds should be counted as two errors. Thus, the requirement may be met if all disturbances (errors) in the video or audio fall within a single two-second interval or all disturbances (errors) in the video and/or audio fall within two intervals, each not exceeding one second in duration. Examples of video and audio disturbances include freezing or corruption of the image and complete or intermittent loss of the sound. Error counts are not expected to include inherent errors associated with the start and end or looping of field ensembles for playback. Error counts are not expected to include errors due to dropped symbols that occurred in some of the recorded field ensembles, as documented in ATSC A/74. Compliance with Specification Number 14 (Field Ensembles) of Technical Appendix 1 of the Final Rule may be demonstrated by following the suggestions contained in this document. Alternate measurement methods proposed by manufacturers may be considered by NTIA.

15. Is the inclusion of a USB port on a proposed CECB a disqualifying feature?


Yes, Technical Appendix 2 provides examples of disqualifying features such as USB. (A semi-colon between "USB" and "IEEE-1394" was inadvertently omitted from the "Outputs" chart.)

16. Are digital coaxial audio outputs or SPDIF (optical) outputs permitted on eligible converter boxes?

No. Technical Appendix 2, "Outputs" includes examples of disqualifying features. Digital coaxial and SPDIF optical outputs are not consistent with the statutory description of "converter box." (See Pub. L. 109-171, Section 3005(d) and Paragraph 55 of the Final Rule.)

17. Technical Appendix 1, Item 24 (Signal Quality Indicator) states that "the equipment will display on the television receiver signal quality indications such as signal strength per ATSC A/74, Section 4.7." Is more than one indication of signal quality required?

No, it is required that at least one signal quality indication is displayed. "At least" one means that a converter box displaying a single quality indication is acceptable. Additional signal quality indications are permitted.

18. We are going to supply our converter to another company that will sell it under a different model name. It is physically identical but the model name is different. Will that company need to submit an NOI, test results and samples for certification?

Please see Question and Answer #46 below. 

19. Does Technical Appendix 1, item #3 "PSIP information" require that all available information on the Event Information Table (i.e., program information for the next three hours) have to be displayed?

No. To meet the requirements of item 3 of Technical Appendix 1, converters must display PSIP data "to provide the user with tuned channel and program information." Tuned channel and program information is a reference to the current program information for the "tuned channel." In addition, manufacturers are permitted to display additional program information such as upcoming listings or programs on other channels pursuant to Technical Appendix 2, "Program Information."

20. Is a subjective assessment by an expert viewer acceptable to test the Composite Output (Technical Appendix 1, Item 7)?

Yes. The use of an expert viewer to test this specification is recommended and acceptable.

21. Do the required minimum performance specifications in Technical Appendix 1 need to be tested on all RF channels (2 through 69 inclusive)?

The law requires converter boxes to contain features or functions necessary to "enable a consumer to convert any channel broadcast in the digital television service into a format that the consumer can display on television receivers designed to receive and display signals only in the analog television service." Therefore, the intent of all of the specifications is that the requirements be met on every applicable TV channel. Manufacturers are expected to use engineering judgment in determining how many and which channels to test for each of the requirements so they are confident the requirements can be met on all channels. In exercising this judgment, it is recommended that manufacturers consider the following.

(1) The manufacturer's knowledge of its tuner design may provide a basis for identifying channels that are most likely to exhibit degraded performance.

(2) FCC tests have demonstrated that some DTV tuners exhibit significantly poorer sensitivity on low VHF channels than on high VHF and UHF channels; consequently, it is recommended that at least some testing at low VHF be included, especially in evaluating requirement number 8, "RF Dynamic Range". (See Chapter 4 of Stephen R. Martin, "Tests of ATSC 8-VSB Reception Performance of Consumer Digital Television Receivers Available in 2005", Report FCC/OET TR 05-1017, , November 2, 2005, available at www.fcc.gov/oet/info/documents/reports/TR-05-1017-ATSC-reception-testing.pdf )

(3) Even for specifications for which the tuner performance is not expected to have direct effect, channel-dependent signal impairments introduced by the tuner could cause a failure to meet a requirement on one channel that can be met on another.

(4) NTIA may choose to test different channels from those indicated in the submitted test report in order to verify performance.

22. Neither the burst noise specification in Technical Appendix 1, Item 13 nor the referenced section in ATSC A/74 (Section 4.4.4) indicates the bandwidth of the white noise to be used. What should the bandwidth of the white noise be?

The bandwidth of the white noise should be at least wide enough to ensure that the noise is white (spectrum of the noise is flat) across the 6 MHz channel under test. Alternate measurement methods proposed by manufacturers may be considered by NTIA.

23. For the Burst Noise test specified in Technical Appendix 1, Item 13 how should the average power of the noise be measured?

The average noise power of the white noise source should be measured before any gating is applied. The average noise power of the white noise source before gating should be 5 dB below the average power of the DTV signal. Both the average noise power and average signal power are to be measured in the 6 MHz channel under test. Alternate measurement methods proposed by manufacturers may be considered by NTIA.

24. Is it required to test all 18 video formats on the converter or is it sufficient to sample over-the-air formats currently available from broadcast stations?


The Final Rule requires that converters be capable of receiving and presenting for display "any and all of the video formats" contained in Table A3 of ATSC A/53E. (Item #1, Decoder, Technical Appendix 1.)

25. To obtain closed captioning, EAS, and V-Chip material for testing, are the data streams available through current over-the-air broadcasts acceptable for this test purpose?

No.

26. Will NTIA permit manufacturers to revise software or hardware after submitting test results and sample converters if we find minor bugs or hardware problems?

Final Rule 301.5(c) states that the "manufacturer will supply two production sample converter boxes to NTIA." This means the samples should be so well tested and refined that there is no need for software or hardware changes or repairs after they have been submitted.

27. Could you clarify the rules on consumer returns and refunds for CECBs?

Final Rule 301.4(f) states that "consumer may not return a CECB to a retailer for a cash refund for the coupon amount or make an exchange for another item unless it is another CECB." If a consumer returns a CECB they may make an exchange for another CECB. If the cost of the new CECB is more than the original, the consumer may need to pay the balance; if it is less than the original CECB, the store may refund the difference, NOT including the original coupon value. Further, Final Rule 301.5(j) states that it is the responsibility of manufacturers to resolve any performance or product defect issues with consumers and retailers." Retailers and manufacturers should make their own private agreements regarding any retailer returns to the manufacturer.

28. Is it sufficient to publish the consumer manual only in English?

NTIA suggests that consumer materials such as instruction manuals be produced at least in English and Spanish as well as in other languages the manufacturer typically uses for its products distributed in the United States and its territories.

29. The quality of RF Players used for play back of field ensembles is not consistent. Different RF Players will cause some captured streams to pass, while another will cause it to fail. What RF players should the manufacturer use to perform these tests?

Signal quality variations among RF players can affect the results of field ensemble tests. You may use the highest quality player available to you for your tests. With some players, use of a high-quality external up-converter may improve results. Alternate methods proposed by manufacturers may be considered by NTIA.

30. When performing field ensemble tests, what signal output level should be used from the RF player to the converter box? For example, should the level be -28 dBm, -53 dBm or -68 dBm to meet the weak, moderate or strong signal requirements? Which level is required to meet NTIA requirements?

It is acceptable to use -28 dBm for these tests; however, tests at other levels will also be considered acceptable.

31. Are measurements on components (e.g., chip sets) sufficient to show compliance with NTIA's technical requirements for CECB?

No. Tests to show compliance with the NTIA DTV technical requirements must be made on a representative sample of production units of the proposed CECB, pursuant to Section 301.5(d) of the NTIA Final Rules and item 3 of the NTIA Federal Register Public Notice dated 5/30/07. Tests made on individual components (e.g., chip set) that have not been installed in a proposed CECB are insufficient to show compliance of the proposed CECB.

32. Can the required tests to show compliance with NTIA's technical requirements be performed by more than one laboratory?

Yes, the tests need not be performed by the same laboratory. However, each proposed CECB must be tested to show compliance with all NTIA DTV specifications.

33. Does a CECB have to comply with the Region Rating Tables (RRT)?

Yes. Pursuant to item 17 of Technical Appendix 1 of the NTIA Final Rules, converters must display (1) EAS, (2) parental control information per 47 CFR 15.120 (FCC Rules) and (3) Close Captioning information per 47 CFR 15.122. A current copy of the FCC Rules may be found at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title47/47tab_02.tpl. Please note that 47 CFR 15.120(d), states in part . "Digital television receivers shall react in a similar manner as analog televisions when programmed to block specific rating categories. Effective March 15, 2006, digital television receivers will receive program rating descriptors transmitted pursuant to industry standard EIA/CEA-766-A "U.S. and Canadian Region Rating Tables (RRT) and Content Advisory Descriptors for Transport of Content Advisory Information using ATSC A/65-A Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP)," 2001 (incorporated by reference, see §15.38). Blocking of programs shall occur when a program rating is received that meets the pre-determined user requirements. Digital television receivers shall be able to respond to changes in the content advisory rating system." These requirements also apply to converters.

34. There are three field ensembles out of the fifty ATSC field ensembles that have no video. How should the performance of the CECBs be determined for these field ensembles?

Technical Appendix 1, Item 14 (Field Ensembles) specifies the criteria used for compliance for field ensemble testing. Question #14 from the Manufacturers' Frequently Asked Questions clarifies how errors in the field ensemble testing should be counted. Determination of errors is based upon human observation of the video and audio. Since three field ensembles have no video, they cannot be used to evaluate multipath performance using our criteria. Because of this and in order to be as fair as possible, we will assume that these three field ensembles automatically meet our criteria (i.e., pass) for all DTV converter boxes.

35. How do we handle horizontal streaks occurring in field ensembles?

Horizontal streaks occupying a single scan line are judged to be defects in the video source material prior to conversion to MPEG format for broadcast and are not counted as errors.

36. When performing all tests that use subjective assessment of the video and audio, what is the minimum observation time that should be used?

As described in footnote 1 of Item 8 (RF Dynamic Range) in Technical Appendix 1 of the Final Rule, “For subjective measurement, the use of an expert viewer is recommended. The viewer shall observe the video and listen to the audio for at least 20 seconds in order to determine Threshold of Visibility (TOV) and Threshold of Audibility (TOA).”

37. For the Single Static Echo Tests (Item 15 in Technical Appendix 1 of the Final Rule), can the same evaluation method used in the evaluation of field ensembles defined in NTIA FAQ #14 be used?  If not, then what evaluation method should be used?

The evaluation method used to determine converter box performance with single static echoes is different from that used to determine converter box performance with the field ensembles. In the single static echo test, for each echo delay specified in Tables 4 or 5 in Technical Appendix 1, the echo signal power should be increased until the threshold of visibility (TOV) occurs. At each echo delay, the measured Desired to Echo Ratio is then determined by taking the desired signal power in dBm and subtracting the echo signal power in dBm at the TOV. For compliance, the resulting, measured Desired to Echo Ratio at every echo delay must be less than or equal to that listed in the appropriate table (Table 4 or 5 depending on whether Criteria A or B is being used).
Consistent with ATSC A/74 guidelines, for the single static echo tests, FAQ#11 recommends the use of a 0.05 Hz Doppler shift (or the slowest Doppler shift above 0.05 Hz that is available on the equipment used for the tests). With a 0.05 Hz Doppler shift, video errors are most likely to occur at 20-second intervals (1 / Doppler shift), when the 8-VSB pilot signal (or the entire signal when the delay is 0 us) is partially canceled by the echo.  Therefore, in determining the TOV during the single static echo testing using a 0.05 Hz Doppler shift, it is especially important to use an observation time of at least 20 seconds (see FAQ #36 and footnote 1 of Item 8 (RF Dynamic Range) in Technical Appendix 1 of the Final Rule). An observation time any less than 20 seconds in this case might miss the errors. (Note that with Doppler shifts greater than 0.05 Hz, the video errors will most likely occur at intervals less than 20 seconds [1 / Doppler shift] so the observation time of at least 20 seconds will still not miss any of the errors.)

38. In item 9 (Phase Noise) of Technical Appendix 1 of the NTIA Final Rule, the performance specification for the phase noise test is given at only a single offset frequency.  Neither the NTIA Final Rules nor ATSC A/74 defines what the phase noise profile (power spectral density vs. frequency offset from the carrier) should be.  What phase noise profile should be used for the phase noise test?

NTIA recommends a phase noise profile that decays at a rate of 20 dB per decade of frequency offset over a frequency range of at least 500 Hz to 100 kHz to show compliance with item 9 of Technical Appendix 1.  However, other phase noise profiles will be accepted.

39. For item 3 (PSIP processing) of Technical Appendix 1 of the NTIA Final Rule, what are the minimum “program information” elements necessary to show compliance with this performance specification?

The “program information” elements should include:

  1. Tuned channel number (e.g., 7-1)
  2. Tuned channel name (e.g., WXYZ)
  3. Tuned program (name of program)
  4. Program hours (e.g., 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
  5. Program rating or Content Advisory for the current program.

Other program information elements may be provided and will be considered.

40. If a converter is capable of downloading the RRT tables only once, is it compliant with the FCC’s Parental Control requirement (47 C.F.R. 15.120)?

No.  Converters must be capable of blocking (a) MPAA rated programs; (b) programs rated with FCC Content Advisories; and (c) multiple RRT5 downloads. 

41. How many video formats are included in NTIA Performance Specification number 1 and what information should be included in the test report?

Table A3 of ATSC A/53e has been replaced by table 6.2 (compression format constraints) in updated A/53 Part 4 (video) dated 1/3/07.  In counting the number of formats that are required as defined by this table, the aspect ratio information column is a bit misleading. The proper way to interpret the values in that column is as follows. The "1" in this column is not another format. It is merely noting the fact that the pixels are square. Therefore, "1, 3" means a single format of a 16:9 aspect ratio with square pixels.  Likewise, "1, 2" means a single format of a 4:3 aspect ratio with square pixels. "2, 3" means either a format of a 4:3 aspect ratio or a format of a 16:9 aspect ratio (i.e., two different formats) both with non-square pixels. Therefore, the correct number of formats described in the compression format constraints table is 36. Note that since the allowable frame rates are 24, 30, and 60 Hz plus very slight variations of these frame rates [namely these frame rates multiplied by (1000/1001)], some people may count the number of formats as only 18. We will test for 36 formats.

NTIA will accept test reports in which tests are performed with transport streams that are appropriate for video format testing.  Submitted test reports should clearly describe the MPEG transport streams used for testing and should identify the resolution and frame rate information for all tested formats.

42. What are the requirements for Closed-Captioning? [The following answer replaces the previous answer to FAQ #2]

Closed captioning must comply with the FCC’s rule, 47 C.F.R. section 15.122. See NTIA Technical Appendix I, Specification #17. Paragraph (a)(2) of the FCC rule requires that “DTV converter boxes that allow digitally transmitted television signals to be displayed on analog receivers shall pass available analog caption information to the attached receiver in a form recognizable by that receiver's built-in caption decoder circuitry.”  Paragraph (b) requires that DTV receivers and tuners be capable of decoding captioning information delivered pursuant to EIA-708-B; however, Report and Order FCC 00-259, which generated these requirements, makes it clear that the requirement to decode EIA 708 captions does not apply to converter boxes.  Per paragraphs 48 through 51 of that order (http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-00-259A1.pdf), converter boxes are required only to encode the EIA-608 captions onto line 21 of the analog video output; creation of captions by the converter box is an optional capability.

NTIA recommends that converter boxes which are capable of creating captions be tested for correct implementation of both the 608 (e.g., CC1) and 708 (e.g., Caption Service 1) captions by means of an appropriate set of transport streams.  In evaluating the results of such testing, it should be noted that per the FCC rule for DTV receivers and tuners, certain features included in those standards are optional, including the following:  certain character sets [15.122(d)], simultaneous display of more than 4 rows of caption text or 4 caption windows [15.122(f)(1)], and support for overlapped windows [15.122(f)(2)].  Submitted test reports should clearly indicate the transport streams used for testing and how the tests were conducted on the required and optional closed captioning functions. Other test data may be considered.

43. Are there additional requirements, beside the NTIA requirements, for a CECB?

Yes, a CECB must comply with the FCC Requirements for a TV Interface Device in Part 15 of the FCC Rules. Before it can legally be marketed in the U.S.A., a TV Interface Device must meet the technical requirements in Subpart B of Part 15 and the labeling and approval requirements in Subpart A of Part 15 under either the Declaration of Conformity process or the Certification process. Further information about the FCC requirements can be obtained through the FCC website, www.fcc.gov/labhelp.

44. What information should be included in the test report for showing compliance with the downloadable rating region table (RRT5)?

The parental control rules regarding downloadable ratings are unclear as to the number of dimensions that must be handled. The downloadable ratings format (RRT5) allows for ratings with up to 255 dimensions. We are testing to ensure that converter boxes can handle blocking on any of up to 20 dimensions and can display up to eight active ratings for the current program. Refer to NTIA manufacturers’ frequently asked question #33 and 40. We recommend that the following information be included with the test report for the proposed CECB:

  • A sufficiently detailed description of the parental controls test, including downloadable rating region table (RRT5) testing that was performed and the results of this testing. Identify what streams were used for testing RRT5.
  • Verify that the unit is capable of displaying and blocking program content. Refer to NTIA manufacturers’ frequently asked question #4.
  • Identify how many rating dimensions the converter box can handle under the downloadable ratings system. (A minimum of 20 is required.)
  • Identify how many active ratings for the current program can be displayed. (A minimum of 8 is required.)
  • Screen shots should be provided, if possible.

NTIA will also consider other information included with the test report to show compliance.

45. Shouldconverter boxes include the capability to conduct a channel scan that does not delete previously found channels?

We recommend, but will not require, that converter boxes include the capability to conduct a channel scan that does not delete previously found channels.  Such an “add-channel” scan will allow customers to conduct channel scans with more than one antenna orientation in cases in which a single antenna orientation is not adequate for reception of all local channels.  The tunable channel list would then include all channels that can be received—including channels for which the antenna must be reoriented for reception.  This "add-channel" scan capability will help ensure user-friendly operation.

46.  What are the requirements if a manufacturer wants to change the identification or cosmetic appearance of an approved CECB, or to supply an approved CECB to another manufacturer for production? (The following answer replaces the previous answer to #18.)

NTIA will require the requesting manufacturer to file a new Notice of Intent, Form DTV-3 (NOI), describing any modifications to an approved, original CECB, (not an approved derivative CECB). NTIA encourages a clear and complete description of the proposed changes because NTIA will rely upon the NOI description to determine whether there is a need for a new test report or FCC testing. We must clearly understand the association of the derivative unit (brand name and model number) and the approved CECB (brand name and model number). Modifications of the model number, brand name, or “cosmetic changes” such as the appearance of the unit will not usually require additional testing. Software modifications, such as an interactive user interface or setup, and other changes may affect performance in a manner that requires further testing. However, the requester should also provide internal and external photographs of the approved CECB, and the CECB as modified, (i.e., the “derivative unit”) and statements from the OEM and derivative unit manufacturer or customer on each company’s letterhead that the derivative unit is identical in every respect to the approved CECB, except for the modifications described in the accompanying NOI. The external photographs of the derivative unit should clearly display the identification label with the model name and number. The internal photographs of both the CECB and the derivative unit should clearly show the major chipsets and tuner. In addition, NTIA requires the requester to submit a block diagram clearly identifying the major chipsets and tuner for both the CECB and the derivative unit. NTIA will evaluate each modification request as a new NOI and will notify the requesting manufacturer of any additional tests or other information it must provide. If we determine that the derivative unit is compliant, NTIA will issue a new certification for each derivative CECB. Please note that in certifying a derivative unit, NTIA may require a new UPC code and/or model number to distinguish it from the source CECB depending upon the CECB modifications implemented in the derivative unit.

47. Is “analog signal pass-through” a required feature? What are the NTIA requirements if a manufacturer wants to add an analog signal pass-through feature to an approved CECB?

NOTE: This response has been updated as of April, 2008. NTIA’s specifications do not require an analog signal pass-through feature. Technical Appendix 2 states that “equipment may pass through a NTSC analog signal from the antenna to the TV receiver;” or include a “by-pass switch to permit NTSC pass-through.” As stated in paragraphs 49-50 of the preamble to the NTIA Final Rule adopting the DTV Converter Coupon Program, “NTIA strongly urges manufacturers to take into consideration the needs of consumers to receive analog television along with digital television in the development of CECBs and to investigate minimal signal loss solutions that would ensure an acceptable analog signal pass-through. In the Final Rule, NTIA permits approved converter boxes to pass through the analog signal from the antenna to the TV receiver,” 72 Fed. Reg. 12097, 12104 (2007).

If an analog pass-through feature is included in a converter box, there is no requirement that the RF input from the antenna be simultaneously present at the input of the ATSC tuner and the RF output. In fact, our ideal concept of analog pass-through simply bypasses the converter box when the box is powered down. (Additionally, this approach includes a very low loss in the analog pass-through path when the box is powered down and a very low loss to the ATSC tuner when the converter box is powered on.) In other words, when the converter box is powered down, the RF input is connected directly to the RF output and not to the ATSC tuner input. When the converter box is powered on, the RF input is only connected to the ATSC tuner input and the RF output is connected to the Channel 3/4 modulator output.

A manufacturer wants to add analog signal pass-through capability to an approved CECB should follow the procedure in FAQ #46 and provide a detailed description of how the manufacturer plans to implement the analog signal pass-through feature. Additional measurements and possibly FCC testing may be required to ensure continued compliance of the approved CECB. Once NTIA has reviewed the request, we will advise what, if any, additional measurements will be required. If testing is required, we will make every effort to expedite the review and testing. For new proposed CECBs that incorporate analog pass-through, a new Notice of Intent (NOI) and test report shall be filed in accordance with Section 301.5(a) of the NTIA Final Rules. In any case, a converter box with an analog pass-through capability must still meet the performance specifications in Technical Appendix 1 of the NTIA Final Rules for the DTV converter coupon program.

Previous studies of NTSC television subjective video quality have shown that decreases in SNR of roughly 4 to 6 dB can correspond to a degradation of one ITU-R subjective video impairment-scale grade. Therefore, in addition to the performance specifications in Technical Appendix 1, to minimize degradation of video quality, we recommend that the loss through the analog pass-through path (over channels 2-69 inclusive) be maintained as low as possible; preferably below 1 dB but at least below 4 dB.

48. Can we use the TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo on our product or packaging? (The following answer replaces the previous answer to #10.)

Yes. NTIA encourages manufacturers to use the TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo on the product packaging to help consumers identify CECB's. The use of the Coupon Program logo or reference to the Coupon Program is permitted only on or in association with approved CECBs. You may apply the logo as a sticker or print it directly on product packaging. A PDF formatted version is available on NTIA's website at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon/DTVlogo.pdf.

The TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo may be reproduced in CMYK, 4-color, spot color, black, or white. Legibility of the logo is important. Therefore, when using the logo, it is important to comply with the following:

  • The logo must be produced at a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch.
  • The logo must not be printed smaller than 1.25 inches wide.
  • The Pantone colors of the logo are PMS 485, PMS 122, PMS 2925 and 100% black.
  • A CMYK logo is also available if a color-build version is desired.
  • The logo should be printed on a plain, light-colored background, preferably white.
  • The logo may be reversed out of a solid, dark-colored background.
  • The logo may not be edited or altered in any way other than as described above.
In addition, you may state on a label or on the package that the product is "Coupon Eligible" and that the $40 coupon is redeemable towards the purchase of a certified converter box. However, "CECB" should not be part of the manufacturer’s brand or model number.

You may not use "U.S. Government", "U.S. Department of Commerce", "NTIA", or their associated logos. Further, you may not alter the TV Converter Coupon Program logo in any way or use it for any purpose not specified in this FAQ without express written permission of NTIA.

49. Is there a new FCC labeling requirement for converter manufacturers?

Yes. In its DTV Consumer Education Intiative Report and Order, effective March 31, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a new rule, 47 C.F.R. § 15.124, which reads:

§ 15.124 DTV Transition Notices by Manufacturers of Televisions and Related Devices

(a) The requirements of this section shall apply to television receivers and related devices. Related devices are electronic devices that are designed to be connected to, and operate with, television receivers, and which include, but are not limited to, DVD players and recorders, VCRs and monitors, set-top-boxes (including NTIA Coupon Eligible Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes), and personal video recorders.

(b) Television receivers and related devices shipped between the effective date of these rules and March 31, 2009 must include notices about the digital television (DTV) transition. These notices must:

(1) Be in clear and conspicuous print;

(2) Convey at least the following information about the DTV transition:

(i) After February 17, 2009, a television receiver with only an analog broadcast tuner will require a converter box to receive full power 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 to receive low power, Class A or translator television stations and with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products.

(ii) Information about the DTV transition is available from www.DTV.gov or this manufacturer at [telephone number], and from www.dtv2009.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009 for information about subsidized coupons for digital-to-analog converter boxes; and

(3) Explain clearly what effect, if any, the DTV transition will have on the use of the receiver or related device, including any limitations or requirements associated with connecting a related device to a DTV receiver.

(c) Parties that manufacture, import, or ship interstate television receivers and related devices are responsible for inclusion of these notices.

Last Updated: April 14, 2008

TV Converter Box Coupon Program
Click or call for coupons:
1-888-388-2009
1-888-DTV-2009

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