Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Omission of Class B statement in users manual costs…


Image by wolfheadfilms via Flickr

The Federal Communications Commission( FCC) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Marshall Amplification PLC, seeking $7500 for what the FCC claims is “willful and repeated” violation of section 302(b) of the Communications Act and sections 2.803(a)(2) and 15.105(b) of the
Commission’s rules.

The notice follows a complaint received by the FCC that Marshall had not included the proper consumer disclosure in the users manual of some Class B digital devices being sold by Marshall. It is noted in the NAL that the products were verified for compliance with the Class B limits and the technical requirements had been met, thus the base forfeiture amount was adjusted down as a result, however, the forfeiture amount was adjusted  back up based on Marshall’s ability to pay, stating “large or highly profitable entities, such as Marshall should expect forfeitures higher than those reflected in the base amounts”

In general most consumers are unfamiliar with the requirements and rules of the FCC, and it can be assumed that a large amount of complaints received by the FCC are filed by industry competitors, excluding those cases that deal with actual radio interference.

The consumer disclosure in question is intended to inform the user of the potential for interference and what to do should it occur, and is required for all class B digital devices.

This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a Class B digital device, pursuant to part 15 of the FCC Rules.  These limits are designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful interference in a residential installation.  This equipment generates, uses and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful interference to radio communications.  However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in a particular installation.  If this equipment does cause harmful interference to radio or television reception, which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on, the user is encouraged to try to correct the interference by one or more of the following measures:

  • Reorient or relocate the receiving antenna.
  • Increase the separation between the equipment and receiver.
  • Connect the equipment into an outlet on a circuit different from that to which the receiver is connected.
  • Consult the dealer or an experienced radio/TV technician for help.

A NAL is not a forfeiture order, it usually follows a Letter of Inquiry, and the recipient of one can still seek dismissal and/or reduction in the amount. The process ends in one of three ways, an actual forfeiture order, a consent decree, or criminal prosecution, with the latter being rare.

While, with regard to this particular incident, the cost of this omission may be $7500, and some may consider this as simply the cost of doing business, it should be noted that the fines can be much higher for willful and repeated violations, and could be cumulative based on each product sold and compounded for each day the violation occurs.

The complete NAL can be found at

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