Peavey Electronics ponies up $225,000 for digital device violations.

Are there no music lovers at the FCC?

Perhaps not in the Enforcement Bureau, which over the last few years has singled out audio and music companies for large fines relating to the FCC’s digital device rules. Those rules require manufacturers of equipment having digital circuitry – that’s pretty much everything, these days – to test stray radio-frequency emissions for compliance with FCC limits. The manufacturer (or importer) must also place specified warnings in the instruction manual and, for consumer equipment, apply certain labels and provide additional paperwork.

The last few years have seen substantial penalties and settlements against audio manufacturers for violating these rules: Rane ($61,500); guitar-maker Fender ($265,000); American Music and Sound ($72,000); PreSonus ($125,000) and the biggest fine of all, levied against Behringer ($1,000,000).

Most recently in the crosshairs is Peavey Electronics Corporation, which is handing over $225,000 to settle charges that it violated the digital device rules. (We take a personal interest in this one; our own Blogmeister has long used Peavey gear, pictured above in the CommLawBlog bunker sound studio.)

In none of the recent cases had any of the equipment actually been shown to cause interference. There are not even allegations that the equipment exceeded the FCC’s technical limits. A few of the cases charged the manufacturer with not properly testing the equipment for compliance (American Music and Sound; Behringer; possibly PreSonus). In the remaining cases, including Peavey, the only offenses involved missing labels and information in the instruction manuals. But the penalties are still substantial.

If you manufacture or import any kind of product that has digital circuitry – that’s pretty much anything with an on/off switch – we strongly urge you to contact your FCC lawyer, if you have one, or a good compliance test lab, and ask how to keep the FCC happy