The FCC proposed a $1 million fine against Behringer for reportedly marketing 50 models of unauthorized radio frequency devices specifically, Class B digital audio music devices such as mixing consoles, dynamic processors and microphone preamps.
The commission defines marketing to include the sale or lease of a product or activities such as importing, shipping and distribution.
The agency acted on a complaint it received in 2004 that alleged Behringer was marketing digital audio equipment that didn't have a certification label. The FCC's equipment authorization program requires that radio frequency equipment be tested for compliance with applicable technical requirements in accordance with one of three authorization procedures - certification, Declaration of Conformity, or verification -
to ensure that radio transmitters and other electronic devices meet certain standards to control interference before they reach the market.
In its first response, Behringer told the FCC in 2000, it began importing, marketing, distributing for sale and selling in the United States digital audio products, such as mixers, amplifiers, and digital effects processors - a total of at least 66 models.
The company told the agency that it had not verified compliance of any of the 66 models of its digital devices with the applicable FCC technical standards, prior to importing and marketing such devices in the United States. Behringer said that "a range" of its digital devices had been tested and passed "CE" directives.
Behringer told the FCC that, after receiving the bureau's first inquiry, it initiated measures to come into compliance, engaging a lab to test products and saying it would submit results to the commission.
The FCC said in its decision that Behringer supplemented its response with copies of test reports demonstrating compliance of 14 of its 66 models of digital devices with emission limits. However, the FCC found that Behringer continued to market the remaining models of digital devices in question.
Behringer since 2004, it imported 93,620 units and sold 100,304 units of digital devices that had not yet been tested for compliance with the FCC's rules.
The fine only applies to 50 of the models because 16 models were tested and verified more than a year before the date of the FCC action.
Specifically, the commission proposed base forfeitures of $7,000 for each of the 50 models of unauthorized digital devices it marketed in the United States within the last year. It added to the fine, "based on the egregious nature of Behringer's misconduct, its ability to pay a forfeiture, and the substantial economic gain it derived from its continued marketing of unauthorized devices after the Enforcement Bureau began its investigation," stated the FCC in its decision.
The commission noted the amount "substantially exceeds" proposed fines in similar equipment cases, noting it recently proposed a $75,000 forfeiture against a manufacturer for advertising one model of an unauthorized device in various venues, and proposed a $125,000 forfeiture against a retailer for selling several models of unauthorized devices on thirteen occasions.
A Behringer USA spokesman said he could not comment as he had not seen the decision.