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Rane, FCC Reach Detente

Professional audio and live sound device manufacturer to pay $61,500 to end equipment marketing investigation

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and Rane Corp. have reached an agreement that ends an investigation into how the company markets certain digital RF devices in the U.S.

As part of the consent decree, Rane will make a voluntary $61,500 payment to the U.S. Treasury and admits no guilt. In exchange, the FCC’s probe ends. One legal observer says other equipment makers should take note of the case and check their product labeling.

Rane manufactures and markets professional audio and live sound products like amplifiers, compressors, equalizers and mixers. The products involved are unintentional radiators subject to authorization prior to marketing, using either the commission’s equipment verification or declaration of conformity procedures.

In 2012, the agency asked Rane to answer questions about the manufacture, labeling and marketing of certain digital devices. The recent decision didn’t specify which devices were at issue.

In preparing its answers, Rane discovered that some of its digital devices were not labeled and that some user manuals were missing required consumer disclosure information.

As part of the agreement, Rane will designate a compliance officer who knows the commission’s equipment marketing rules. That person will establish procedures to make sure the company’s RF devices comply with the commission’s technical standards and that they are properly authorized and labeled. The company will submit compliance reports to the agency for the next 48 months.

Commenting on this case, Mitchell Lazarus of communications law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth wrote on its blog: “We suggest that other electronics manufacturers take Rane’s misfortune as a reminder to check their own product labeling and paperwork. … We don’t know how the Rane matter came to the FCC’s attention. But we do know that many enforcement actions originate with tips sent in by the offender’s competitors. If you have competitors, chances are they double as FCC agents who watch your company’s every move. The only good defense is to know the rules and comply with them.”