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FCC Upholds Fine for Marketing Uncertified FM Transmitters

Initial $22,000 penalty against Inter Tech was levied in 2009

A $22,000 fine against electronics equipment manufacturer and reseller Inter Tech for marketing FM transmitters and external RF power amplifiers without prior commission authorization has gone to the next step.

The agency says the Niles, Ill.-based company hasn’t responded to the initial fine levied in 2009, so the commission has raised the penalty to a Forfeiture Order and wants its money within five days or the case may be turned over the Justice Department for collection.

The agency received complaints that Inter Tech was marketing unauthorized FM gear in the U.S. on its website and began looking into the allegations in 2008. In its first response to an agency query, Inter Tech identified the FM transmitter models that it manufactured and marketed in the United States under the trade name Cybermax. The company told the FCC those models were marketed under Part 73 of the FCC’s rules and provided verification records for the Max 15 DSP FM exciter, an exciter that Inter Tech claimed was incorporated into its transmitters.

Inter Tech said it marketed several Cybermax amp models for export only. The company said it didn’t manufacture these, but only incorporated third-party modules manufactured by Broadcast Warehouse into their cases. The commission says Inter Tech did not indicate whether the Cybermax amps or the modules were certified according to FCC rules.

In a follow-up letter, Inter Tech told the FCC the company believed that by verifying the exciter, it thought it had complied with the rules.

Inter Tech explained that “it believed that ‘when [an amplifier] was assembled with other RF components, e.g., as a standalone transmitter, that certification for the amplifier component was not required,’” and that it was “operating under the premise of self-verification,” according to the FCC.

The company also said it was assured the Cybermax models were for export only, however, after learning however, that products capable of amplification below 144 MHz required FCC certification, it stopped marketing and selling such products to the domestic market.

Inter Tech told the FCC that four Cybermax transmitter models contained the verified exciter with no amplification, and another four contained the verified exciter coupled with a Broadcast Warehouse amplifier. “Inter Tech indicated that three of the four transmitter models with amplification contained the verified exciter and the Broadcast Warehouse amplifier TX-300, while the fourth transmitter model with amplification contained the verified exciter and the Broadcast Warehouse amplifier TX-150,” according to the agency.

The FCC said Inter Tech apparently manufactured and marketed two unauthorized transmitters in the United States from Feb. 7, 2008 until at least July 10, 2008, the date of the Second Letter of Inquiry. The company argued that its transmitters were certified, and submitted verification records for the Max 15 DSP FM exciter, an exciter that Inter Tech stated was incorporated into each of the transmitters.

However the commission said the verification of the exciter was insufficient to verify the Cybermax transmitters because the addition of the Broadcast Warehouse amplifiers altered the emanating characteristics of the device. Inter Tech incorporated two different certified Broadcast Warehouse amplifiers into its transmitters. So the FCC concluded Inter Tech manufactured and marketed two unverified transmitter models.