Buying inexpensive TV boxes from China is fun, but in order to provide the lowest possible price, some manufacturers may cut corners, and forgo things like FCC certification. It seems the FCC has noticed an issue an enforcement advisory / public notice entitled “VIDEO TV SET-TOP BOXES, INCLUDING THOSE THAT STREAM INTERNET CONTENT, MUST COMPLY WITH FCC EQUIPMENT AUTHORIZATION REQUIREMENTS” with the threat of fines exceeding $147,000.
If you are an individual you may think that you are safe since you are not “marketing” anything, but a footnote explains the meaning of marketing:
Importing, advertising and selling are three aspects of “marketing” under the Commission’s rules.
The text of the notice further mentions that even just operating the device is a violation, and anyone doing so should stop immediately. The document explains a little more about the fines:
Users, manufacturers, importers, and retailers that violate Commission marketing or operating rules may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation).
If you are based in the US, and still want to keep on purchasing TV boxes from China or other places, you should make sure the “Video TV Set-Top Box” has proper FCC authorization, for example for the WiFi module, the enclosure’s sticker shows the FCC ID, and the user manual “must contain consumer disclosures … warning consumers of the device’s potential for causing interference to other radio communications and providing a list of steps that could possibly eliminate the interference.”
Checking also those points seem really impractical for people purchasing from Aliexpress or GearBest, and the FCC stresses out that the presence of the FCC logo is not sufficient as the FCC ID must be labeled on the device. While I’ve not been able to get hold of TV from China in recent years due to a different set of regulations where I live, I can’t remember ever seeing a user manual with radio interference warnings in the many boxes I received in the years prior, so most will fail compliance.
Thanks to Bennett for the tip.