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FCC Upholds $18,000 Fine

Says Richfield Electronics manufactured, marketed noncompliant wireless FM transmitters in the U.S.

The FCC reinforced an earlier decision to fine Richfield Electronics $18,000 for marketing wireless radio gear in the U.S. that didn’t comply with technical and labeling requirements.

The Enforcement Bureau originally proposed the penalty in 2009, saying the Hong Kong-based company marketed The Whole House FM Transmitter in the U.S. and the device didn’t comply with the required emission limit. The device operates in the 106.7–107.9 MHz frequency band.

Richfield shipped more than 18,000 devices to Michigan-based transmitter distributor TAW-Global. Richfield received FCC certification for the device in 2002, but later modified it to improve sound quality. The modification made the device noncompliant with the FCC’s rules.

Richfield told the FCC it didn’t know exactly how many of the noncompliant devices the company had shipped to the U.S., but conceded it had shipped at least 2,500 transmitters that had the modified antenna. Richfield asked for the fine to be cancelled, alleging that TAW asked Richfield to make the devices based on TAW designs and therefore TAW violated the FCC’s rules. The FCC believes the number of noncompliant devices made and sold was “significantly” higher than Richfield acknowledges and agreed that TAW, too, violated its rules.

However the commission says Richfield did manufacturer and market unauthorized FM transmitters in the U.S. Richfield also asked for the fine to be cancelled because it was unfamiliar with the FCC’s labeling requirements.

The FCC says ignorance of its rules does not let a company off the hook and the agency upheld the fine. Payment is due Nov. 13 or the case may be referred to the Justice Department.