Trade Regulation Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products, 3985-3987 [2010-1418]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 16 / Tuesday, January 26, 2010 / Rules and Regulations ACTION: Direct final rule, confirmation of effective date; correction. This action confirms the effective date of a direct final rule published in the Federal Register June 24, 2009, that establishes Class D airspace, Class E surface airspace as an extension of the Class D airspace, and modifies the existing Class E airspace at Ocala International Airport-Jim Taylor Field, Ocala, FL. This action also makes a minor correction to the existing Class E airport description. DATES: Effective Date: 0901 UTC, January 26, 2010. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melinda Giddens, Operations Support, Eastern Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, P.O. Box 20636, Atlanta, Georgia 30320; telephone (404) 305–5610. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: History Confirmation of Effective Date WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES § 71.1 * [Amended] * * * * ‘‘* * * feet above the surface within a 8.9mile’’ * * * * * Issued in College Park, Georgia, on January 13, 2010. Barry A. Knight, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Air Traffic Organization. [FR Doc. 2010–1379 Filed 1–25–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION The rule establishing Class D and E airspace and modifying Class E airspace for Ocala International Airport—Jim Taylor Field, Ocala, FL, published in the Federal Register June 24, 2009 (74 FR 29939), became effective August 27, 2009. Subsequent to the effective date of the rule, the FAA found that the radius in the Class E5 description for Ocala International Airport—Jim Taylor Field was stated incorrectly. This action corrects that error. The FAA published this direct final rule with a request for comments establishing and modifying Class D and E airspace, Ocala, FL in the Federal Register on June 24, 2009 (74 FR 29939), Docket No. FAA–2009–0326; Airspace Docket 09–ASO–15. The FAA uses the direct final rulemaking procedure for a non-controversial rule where the FAA believes that there will be no adverse public comment. This direct final rule advised the public that no adverse comments were anticipated, and that unless a written adverse comment, or a written notice of intent to submit such an adverse comment, were received within the comment period, the regulation would become effective on August 27, 2009. No adverse comments were received, and thus this notice confirms that effective date. With the exception of the changes described above, this rule is the same as that published in the Federal Register as a direct final rule. Technical Amendment Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, the reference to FAA ■ VerDate Nov<24>2008 Order 7400.9 for FR Doc. E9–14821, FAA Airspace Docket No. 09–ASO–15, as published in the Federal Register June 24, 2009 (74 FR 29939), is corrected as follows: ■ On page 29940, column two, line 46, amend the language to read: 13:55 Jan 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 16 CFR Part 432 Trade Regulation Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products Federal Trade Commission. Confirmation of Rule. AGENCY: ACTION: 3985 I. Introduction The Commission, as part of its oversight responsibilities, reviews its rules and guides periodically to seek information about their costs and benefits, as well as their regulatory and economic impact. The information obtained assists the Commission in identifying rules and guides that warrant modification or rescission. On February 27, 2008, the Commission sought comment about the Amplifier Rule, including comments regarding whether there was a continuing need for the Rule, the impact of the Rule on the flow of truthful information to consumers, suggested modifications to the Rule, and the costs and benefits associated with the Rule. The Commission also sought specific comments concerning whether the Rule should be amended to address testing requirements for determining the power ratings for multichannel amplifiers. The Commission has reviewed the comments, and concludes that the Rule continues to benefit consumers and should be retained. The Commission also has determined that the evidence does not indicate widespread deceptive or unfair practices that would justify any amendments to the Rule, including amendments to the testing procedures for multichannel amplifiers. SUMMARY: II. Background FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jock Chung, (202) 326-2984, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In response to misleading or confusing power distortion and other performance claims, the Commission promulgated the Amplifier Rule in 1974 to assist consumers who purchase power amplification equipment. The Rule standardized the measurement and disclosure of various performance characteristics of power amplification equipment intended for home entertainment purposes. 39 FR 15387 (May 3, 1974). In particular, the Rule requires that manufacturers fully drive all ‘‘associated’’ channels to the rated per channel power when measuring the power output of sound amplification equipment that is designed to amplify two or more channels simultaneously. At the time the Commission established the Rule, the only equipment subject to this requirement was stereo amplifiers, and thus the Rule required manufacturers to fully drive both ‘‘associated’’ channels of such amplifiers when measuring power output. Technological developments have changed the market for sound power amplification equipment since the Commission issued the Amplifier Rule. For example, improvements in amplifier design have enabled manufactures to The Federal Trade Commission (‘‘FTC’’ or ‘‘Commission’’) has completed its regulatory review of its Trade Regulation Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products (‘‘Amplifier Rule’’ or ‘‘Rule’’), as part of the Commission’s systematic review of all current Commission regulations and guides, and has determined to retain the Rule in its current form. The Commission also takes this opportunity to issue guidance concerning the testing requirements under the Rule for measuring power ratings of multichannel amplifiers. DATES: This action is effective as of January 26, 2010. ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of this notice should be sent to: Public Reference Branch, Room 130, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. The notice also is available on the Internet at the Commission’s website, (http:// www.ftc.gov). PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\26JAR1.SGM 26JAR1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES 3986 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 16 / Tuesday, January 26, 2010 / Rules and Regulations make even inexpensive amplifiers with inaudible levels of harmonic distortion. Consequently, in 2000 the Commission exempted certain advertising from the Rule’s Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) disclosure requirement. 65 FR 81232 (Dec. 22, 2000). Additionally, to address the development of self-powered subwoofer-satellite combination speaker systems, the Commission clarified the manner in which the Rule’s testing procedures apply to these systems. The introduction of multichannel ‘‘home theater’’ equipment with five or more channels also has dramatically improved consumer amplification choices. This improvement, however, raises questions regarding which of the new channels are ‘‘associated’’ under the Rule. Consequently, in 2000 the Commission issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (‘‘SNPR’’) soliciting comment on Commission proposals to amend the definition of ‘‘associated channels’’ when measuring the power ratings of multichannel home theater amplifiers. 65 FR 80798 (Dec. 22, 2000). The SNPR elicited only one comment from the Consumer Electronics Association (‘‘CEA’’). CEA noted that there was no industry consensus regarding measuring power output of multichannel amplifiers. On January 15, 2002, at the request of CEA, the Commission deferred action to allow industry to form a consensus on procedures for testing multichannel amplifiers . 67 FR 1915 (Jan. 15, 2002). Although CEA subsequently issued a standard, designated EIA/CEA-490-A, ‘‘Test Methods of Measurement for Audio Amplifiers,’’ the Commission’s review did not find widespread adoption of this standard. On March 20, 2007, the Commission determined that industry had not agreed on a power rating standard for multichannel amplifiers. 72 FR 13052 (March 20, 2007). With no industry standard in place, and with only CEA’s comment on the rulemaking record, the Commission concluded it would not be in the public interest to amend the Rule, and terminated its rulemaking. The Commission stated that until it provided further guidance regarding which channels need to be associated for purposes of rating multichannel amplifiers, it would not enforce the association requirements of Section 432.2 of the Rule as the Rule relates to the continuous power output per channel ratings for multichannel amplifiers.1 1 72 FR 13052, 13053. VerDate Nov<24>2008 13:55 Jan 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 III. Regulatory Review On February 27, 2008, the Commission published a Federal Register notice (‘‘FRN’’) seeking comment on the Amplifier Rule as part of the Commission’s periodic review of the Rule to determine its current effectiveness and impact. 73 FR 10403 (Feb. 27, 2008). As noted above, the FRN sought comment on the continuing need for the Rule; the costs and benefits of the Rule; and what effects, if any, technological or economic changes have had on the Rule. In addition, the FRN specifically requested comments regarding whether the Rule should be revised to include additional power ratings guidance for multichannel amplifiers, and requested comments about the potential benefits and costs of amendments to the Rule to address power ratings for multichannel amplifiers. The Commission received two comments in response, one from Richard Myslinski and one from Sony Electronics Inc. (‘‘Sony’’); these comments are available at (http:// www.ftc.gov/os/comments/ amplifirerule/index.shtm?). Mr. Myslinski’s sole comment was ‘‘I think the FTC should let the free market reign and avoid further burdensome regulation.’’ Mr. Myslinski did not submit any further evidence with his comment. Sony commented that the Amplifier Rule serves a useful purpose, noting that ‘‘the Rule gives manufacturers a ‘brightline’ standard against which to measure themselves and the claims of their competitors.’’ Sony further stated that ‘‘although [power output of amplifiers] can be objectively measured, the measurements can be done in different ways, thus making the claims susceptible to manipulation,’’ and that ‘‘[t]his combination of factors makes the Rule an important element in the manufacturer-customer relationship, and it should remain as such.’’ Moreover, Sony stated that ‘‘[w]ithout a clear rule, such as the current Rule . . ., Sony believes that there is a great deal of risk that, at best, consumers would not receive information useful to their purchasing decision, or, at worst, could be deceived by certain power output claims.’’ More specifically, Sony suggested that the Commission amend the Rule to permit manufacturers to disclose power ratings measured according to the procedures set forth in 16 C.F.R. § 432, according to the procedures specified in EIA/CEA-490-A, or according to both procedures. Sony claimed that ‘‘[t]esting according to [EIA/CEA-490-A] would PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 protect and inform consumers at least as much as the test procedures and disclosures currently in the Rule,’’ that ‘‘[t]he greater specificity and scope of [EIA/CEA-490-A] would encourage manufacturers to differentiate products based on a number of technical characteristics,’’ and that disclosing power ratings under both testing methodologies would give consumers a more complete picture of the power of the system. Sony also stated that the Amplifier Rule should not be amended to define all channels of a multi-channel home theater system as ‘‘associated.’’ Sony contended that ‘‘this approach . . . would fail to acknowledge the changes in home audio systems over the past 34 years, would prove unworkable in light of ongoing developments in audio technologies, and could stifle innovation.’’ The Commission concludes that there is a continuing need for the Amplifier Rule. Sony’s comment provides evidence that the Amplifier Rule serves a useful purpose, while imposing minimal costs on the industry, and the Commission has no evidence to the contrary. The Commission has determined that it will not seek to amend the Rule to permit manufacturers to use the EIA/ CEA-490-A standard as an alternative for rating the power output of multichannel amplifiers. Allowing this alternate standard would invite consumer confusion because the EIA/ CEA-490-A standard and the Rule would produce different testing results.2 Consequently, consumers would not be able to compare amplifiers measured under one standard to amplifiers measured under the other standard – a significant problem that led to the promulgation of the Rule.3 The Commission also has determined that it will not amend the Rule to define all channels of a multi-channel home theater system as ‘‘associated’’ channels that must be driven to full rated power 2 For example, the EIA/CEA-490-A standard specifies that power measurements be made at one percent THD and at a 1000 Hz, whereas the FTC protocol leaves the level of THD and the power bandwidth to the discretion of the tester. In addition, the EIA/CEA-490-A standard only requires that one channel be driven to full rated power, with all remaining channels driven to oneeighth power simultaneously. As set forth in this notice, the Amplifier Rule requires that at least the left and right front channels of multichannel amplifiers be driven to full rated power simultaneously. 3 Indeed, when the Commission promulgated the Rule in 1974, it noted that at the time there were ‘‘no less than seven commonly used methods of determining amplifier wattage ratings, all of which will yield substantially different results.’’ 39 FR 15387, 15388. E:\FR\FM\26JAR1.SGM 26JAR1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 16 / Tuesday, January 26, 2010 / Rules and Regulations WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES simultaneously for measuring power output. Sony commented that ‘‘the additional channels in today’s 5.1 and 7.1 home theater systems are designed to carry vastly different sounds at vastly different levels,’’4 Sony commented further that ‘‘to maintain the same power ratings if it were necessary to drive all channels simultaneously during testing, virtually all manufacturers would have to change the sound platform of their amplifiers and receivers to be able to sustain such output,’’ which ‘‘would drive up the costs of production considerably, [and] in turn drive up the ultimate cost to consumers.’’ The Commission has received no contrary evidence indicating that all channels of a multi-channel home theater system frequently would be driven to maximum power simultaneously during typical playback conditions in home use. Absent such evidence, the Rule should not be amended. The Commission previously stated that it would not enforce the ‘‘association’’ requirements of Section 432.2 of the Rule until it provided further guidance regarding which channels need to be associated for purposes of rating multichannel amplifiers. The Commission now provides that guidance. Specifically, at a minimum, the left front and right front channels of multichannel amplifiers are associated under the Rule. It, therefore, would be a violation of the Rule to make power output claims for multichannel amplifiers utilized in home entertainment products unless those representations are substantiated by measurements made with, at a minimum, the left front and right front channels driven to full rated power. The left and right front channels of home theater multichannel amplifiers are responsible for reproducing a substantial portion of the musical soundtracks of movies, as well as a substantial portion of the program content of music CDs and DVDs.5 These 4 Other sources support this contention. See, e.g., What is Surround Sound, (http:// www.customhomeaudio.net/customhomeaudio/ surroundsound.html) (Stating that in multichannel systems ‘‘[t]here is a pair of surround sound speakers that is placed to the side of (and slightly above) the audience to provide the surround sound and ambient effects’’); Mike Sokol, Surround Sound Mixing Techniques, (2005), (http:// www.digifreq.com/digifreq/article.asp?ID=23) (‘‘[M]ovie soundtracks [mix] . . . suround [sic] effects in the rear.’’). 5 See, e.g., Tomlinson Holman, Surround Sound, 197 (Focal Press 2007) (discussing the soundtrack for the beach landing scenes of the film Saving Private Ryan, and noting the importance of a pure stereo mix in the left front and right front channels); What is Surround Sound, (http:// www.customhomeaudio.net/customhomeaudio/ VerDate Nov<24>2008 13:55 Jan 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 soundtracks and music program material, like that of normal stereo recordings, typically drive both the left and right front channels simultaneously. Thus, if a manufacturer does not, at a minimum, drive the left and right front channels to rated per channel power during power output testing of a multichannel amplifier, the test results will not provide a useful measurement of the amplifier’s ability to play such content.6 Furthermore, the most prominent disclosed output in any direct or indirect representation of the power output of a multichannel amplifier must treat the left and right front channels, at a minimum, as being associated. Finally, the Commission notes that pursuant to § 432.2 and § 432.4 of the Rule, marketers must express all power output disclosures in minimum watts ‘‘per channel.’’ Consequently, representations of aggregate power output, such as ‘‘500 watts’’ or ‘‘500 watts total power’’ for an amplifier with five channels that can output 100 minimum watts per channel, would not comply with the Amplifier Rule. IV. Conclusion For the reasons described above, the Commission has determined to retain the current Amplifier Rule. List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 432 Amplifiers, Home entertainment products, Trade practices. Authority: 15 U.S.C. 41-58. By direction of the Commission. Donald S. Clark, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2010–1418 Filed 1–25–10; 11:14 am] BILLING CODE 6750–01–S surroundsound.html) (‘‘There is one center speaker which carries most of the dialog . . . and part of the soundtrack. There are left and right front speakers that carry most of the soundtrack (music and sound effects).’’); What is Surround Sound?, (http:// www.tech-faq.com/surround-sound.shtml) (‘‘[The front right and front left speakers] are usually the most important speakers in your surround sound set up. Most of the music or sound will come from these two speakers.’’). 6 This procedure also will promote consistency between the per channel power output ratings for stereo amplifiers and multichannel amplifiers. PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 3987 DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 18 CFR Part 381 [Docket No. RM10–14–000] Annual Update of Filing Fees January 20, 2010. AGENCY: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Final rule; annual update of Commission filing fees. SUMMARY: In accordance with 18 CFR 381.104, the Commission issues this update of its filing fees. This notice provides the yearly update using data in the Commission’s Management, Administrative, and Payroll System to calculate the new fees. The purpose of updating is to adjust the fees on the basis of the Commission’s costs for Fiscal Year 2009. DATES: Effective Date: February 25, 2010. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Raymond D. Johnson Jr., Office of the Executive Director, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE., Room 42–66, Washington, DC 20426, 202–502–8402. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Document Availability: In addition to publishing the full text of this document in the Federal Register, the Commission provides all interested persons an opportunity to view and/or print the contents of this document via the Internet through FERC’s Home Page (http://www.ferc.gov) and in FERC’s Public Reference Room during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time) at 888 First Street, NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426. From FERC’s Web site on the Internet, this information is available in the eLibrary (formerly FERRIS). The full text of this document is available on eLibrary in PDF and Microsoft Word format for viewing, printing, and/or downloading. To access this document in eLibrary, type the docket number excluding the last three digits of this document in the docket number field and follow other directions on the search page. User assistance is available for eLibrary and other aspects of FERC’s Web site during normal business hours. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov or toll free at (866) 208–3676, or for TTY, contact (202) 502–8659. E:\FR\FM\26JAR1.SGM 26JAR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 16 (Tuesday, January 26, 2010)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 3985-3987]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-1418]


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FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

16 CFR Part 432


Trade Regulation Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for 
Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION: Confirmation of Rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Trade Commission (``FTC'' or ``Commission'') has 
completed its regulatory review of its Trade Regulation Rule Relating 
to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment 
Products (``Amplifier Rule'' or ``Rule''), as part of the Commission's 
systematic review of all current Commission regulations and guides, and 
has determined to retain the Rule in its current form. The Commission 
also takes this opportunity to issue guidance concerning the testing 
requirements under the Rule for measuring power ratings of multichannel 
amplifiers.

DATES: This action is effective as of January 26, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of this notice should be sent to: Public 
Reference Branch, Room 130, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania 
Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. The notice also is available on the 
Internet at the Commission's website, (http://www.ftc.gov).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jock Chung, (202) 326-2984, Attorney, 
Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade 
Commission, Washington, DC 20580.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The Commission, as part of its oversight responsibilities, reviews 
its rules and guides periodically to seek information about their costs 
and benefits, as well as their regulatory and economic impact. The 
information obtained assists the Commission in identifying rules and 
guides that warrant modification or rescission.
    On February 27, 2008, the Commission sought comment about the 
Amplifier Rule, including comments regarding whether there was a 
continuing need for the Rule, the impact of the Rule on the flow of 
truthful information to consumers, suggested modifications to the Rule, 
and the costs and benefits associated with the Rule. The Commission 
also sought specific comments concerning whether the Rule should be 
amended to address testing requirements for determining the power 
ratings for multichannel amplifiers.
    The Commission has reviewed the comments, and concludes that the 
Rule continues to benefit consumers and should be retained. The 
Commission also has determined that the evidence does not indicate 
widespread deceptive or unfair practices that would justify any 
amendments to the Rule, including amendments to the testing procedures 
for multichannel amplifiers.

II. Background

    In response to misleading or confusing power distortion and other 
performance claims, the Commission promulgated the Amplifier Rule in 
1974 to assist consumers who purchase power amplification equipment. 
The Rule standardized the measurement and disclosure of various 
performance characteristics of power amplification equipment intended 
for home entertainment purposes. 39 FR 15387 (May 3, 1974).
    In particular, the Rule requires that manufacturers fully drive all 
``associated'' channels to the rated per channel power when measuring 
the power output of sound amplification equipment that is designed to 
amplify two or more channels simultaneously. At the time the Commission 
established the Rule, the only equipment subject to this requirement 
was stereo amplifiers, and thus the Rule required manufacturers to 
fully drive both ``associated'' channels of such amplifiers when 
measuring power output.
    Technological developments have changed the market for sound power 
amplification equipment since the Commission issued the Amplifier Rule. 
For example, improvements in amplifier design have enabled manufactures 
to

[[Page 3986]]

make even inexpensive amplifiers with inaudible levels of harmonic 
distortion. Consequently, in 2000 the Commission exempted certain 
advertising from the Rule's Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) disclosure 
requirement. 65 FR 81232 (Dec. 22, 2000). Additionally, to address the 
development of self-powered subwoofer-satellite combination speaker 
systems, the Commission clarified the manner in which the Rule's 
testing procedures apply to these systems.
    The introduction of multichannel ``home theater'' equipment with 
five or more channels also has dramatically improved consumer 
amplification choices. This improvement, however, raises questions 
regarding which of the new channels are ``associated'' under the Rule. 
Consequently, in 2000 the Commission issued a Supplemental Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (``SNPR'') soliciting comment on Commission 
proposals to amend the definition of ``associated channels'' when 
measuring the power ratings of multichannel home theater amplifiers. 65 
FR 80798 (Dec. 22, 2000). The SNPR elicited only one comment from the 
Consumer Electronics Association (``CEA''). CEA noted that there was no 
industry consensus regarding measuring power output of multichannel 
amplifiers.
    On January 15, 2002, at the request of CEA, the Commission deferred 
action to allow industry to form a consensus on procedures for testing 
multichannel amplifiers . 67 FR 1915 (Jan. 15, 2002). Although CEA 
subsequently issued a standard, designated EIA/CEA-490-A, ``Test 
Methods of Measurement for Audio Amplifiers,'' the Commission's review 
did not find widespread adoption of this standard.
    On March 20, 2007, the Commission determined that industry had not 
agreed on a power rating standard for multichannel amplifiers. 72 FR 
13052 (March 20, 2007). With no industry standard in place, and with 
only CEA's comment on the rulemaking record, the Commission concluded 
it would not be in the public interest to amend the Rule, and 
terminated its rulemaking. The Commission stated that until it provided 
further guidance regarding which channels need to be associated for 
purposes of rating multichannel amplifiers, it would not enforce the 
association requirements of Section 432.2 of the Rule as the Rule 
relates to the continuous power output per channel ratings for 
multichannel amplifiers.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 72 FR 13052, 13053.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Regulatory Review

    On February 27, 2008, the Commission published a Federal Register 
notice (``FRN'') seeking comment on the Amplifier Rule as part of the 
Commission's periodic review of the Rule to determine its current 
effectiveness and impact. 73 FR 10403 (Feb. 27, 2008). As noted above, 
the FRN sought comment on the continuing need for the Rule; the costs 
and benefits of the Rule; and what effects, if any, technological or 
economic changes have had on the Rule. In addition, the FRN 
specifically requested comments regarding whether the Rule should be 
revised to include additional power ratings guidance for multichannel 
amplifiers, and requested comments about the potential benefits and 
costs of amendments to the Rule to address power ratings for 
multichannel amplifiers.
    The Commission received two comments in response, one from Richard 
Myslinski and one from Sony Electronics Inc. (``Sony''); these comments 
are available at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/amplifirerule/index.shtm?). Mr. Myslinski's sole comment was ``I think the FTC should 
let the free market reign and avoid further burdensome regulation.'' 
Mr. Myslinski did not submit any further evidence with his comment.
    Sony commented that the Amplifier Rule serves a useful purpose, 
noting that ``the Rule gives manufacturers a `bright-line' standard 
against which to measure themselves and the claims of their 
competitors.'' Sony further stated that ``although [power output of 
amplifiers] can be objectively measured, the measurements can be done 
in different ways, thus making the claims susceptible to 
manipulation,'' and that ``[t]his combination of factors makes the Rule 
an important element in the manufacturer-customer relationship, and it 
should remain as such.'' Moreover, Sony stated that ``[w]ithout a clear 
rule, such as the current Rule . . ., Sony believes that there is a 
great deal of risk that, at best, consumers would not receive 
information useful to their purchasing decision, or, at worst, could be 
deceived by certain power output claims.''
    More specifically, Sony suggested that the Commission amend the 
Rule to permit manufacturers to disclose power ratings measured 
according to the procedures set forth in 16 C.F.R. Sec.  432, according 
to the procedures specified in EIA/CEA-490-A, or according to both 
procedures. Sony claimed that ``[t]esting according to [EIA/CEA-490-A] 
would protect and inform consumers at least as much as the test 
procedures and disclosures currently in the Rule,'' that ``[t]he 
greater specificity and scope of [EIA/CEA-490-A] would encourage 
manufacturers to differentiate products based on a number of technical 
characteristics,'' and that disclosing power ratings under both testing 
methodologies would give consumers a more complete picture of the power 
of the system.
    Sony also stated that the Amplifier Rule should not be amended to 
define all channels of a multi-channel home theater system as 
``associated.'' Sony contended that ``this approach . . . would fail to 
acknowledge the changes in home audio systems over the past 34 years, 
would prove unworkable in light of ongoing developments in audio 
technologies, and could stifle innovation.''
    The Commission concludes that there is a continuing need for the 
Amplifier Rule. Sony's comment provides evidence that the Amplifier 
Rule serves a useful purpose, while imposing minimal costs on the 
industry, and the Commission has no evidence to the contrary.
    The Commission has determined that it will not seek to amend the 
Rule to permit manufacturers to use the EIA/CEA-490-A standard as an 
alternative for rating the power output of multichannel amplifiers. 
Allowing this alternate standard would invite consumer confusion 
because the EIA/CEA-490-A standard and the Rule would produce different 
testing results.\2\ Consequently, consumers would not be able to 
compare amplifiers measured under one standard to amplifiers measured 
under the other standard - a significant problem that led to the 
promulgation of the Rule.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For example, the EIA/CEA-490-A standard specifies that power 
measurements be made at one percent THD and at a 1000 Hz, whereas 
the FTC protocol leaves the level of THD and the power bandwidth to 
the discretion of the tester. In addition, the EIA/CEA-490-A 
standard only requires that one channel be driven to full rated 
power, with all remaining channels driven to one-eighth power 
simultaneously. As set forth in this notice, the Amplifier Rule 
requires that at least the left and right front channels of 
multichannel amplifiers be driven to full rated power 
simultaneously.
    \3\ Indeed, when the Commission promulgated the Rule in 1974, it 
noted that at the time there were ``no less than seven commonly used 
methods of determining amplifier wattage ratings, all of which will 
yield substantially different results.'' 39 FR 15387, 15388.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission also has determined that it will not amend the Rule 
to define all channels of a multi-channel home theater system as 
``associated'' channels that must be driven to full rated power

[[Page 3987]]

simultaneously for measuring power output. Sony commented that ``the 
additional channels in today's 5.1 and 7.1 home theater systems are 
designed to carry vastly different sounds at vastly different 
levels,''\4\ Sony commented further that ``to maintain the same power 
ratings if it were necessary to drive all channels simultaneously 
during testing, virtually all manufacturers would have to change the 
sound platform of their amplifiers and receivers to be able to sustain 
such output,'' which ``would drive up the costs of production 
considerably, [and] in turn drive up the ultimate cost to consumers.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Other sources support this contention. See, e.g., What is 
Surround Sound, (http://www.customhomeaudio.net/customhomeaudio/surroundsound.html) (Stating that in multichannel systems ``[t]here 
is a pair of surround sound speakers that is placed to the side of 
(and slightly above) the audience to provide the surround sound and 
ambient effects''); Mike Sokol, Surround Sound Mixing Techniques, 
(2005), (http://www.digifreq.com/digifreq/article.asp?ID=23) 
(``[M]ovie soundtracks [mix] . . . suround [sic] effects in the 
rear.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission has received no contrary evidence indicating that 
all channels of a multi-channel home theater system frequently would be 
driven to maximum power simultaneously during typical playback 
conditions in home use. Absent such evidence, the Rule should not be 
amended.
    The Commission previously stated that it would not enforce the 
``association'' requirements of Section 432.2 of the Rule until it 
provided further guidance regarding which channels need to be 
associated for purposes of rating multichannel amplifiers. The 
Commission now provides that guidance. Specifically, at a minimum, the 
left front and right front channels of multichannel amplifiers are 
associated under the Rule. It, therefore, would be a violation of the 
Rule to make power output claims for multichannel amplifiers utilized 
in home entertainment products unless those representations are 
substantiated by measurements made with, at a minimum, the left front 
and right front channels driven to full rated power.
    The left and right front channels of home theater multichannel 
amplifiers are responsible for reproducing a substantial portion of the 
musical soundtracks of movies, as well as a substantial portion of the 
program content of music CDs and DVDs.\5\ These soundtracks and music 
program material, like that of normal stereo recordings, typically 
drive both the left and right front channels simultaneously. Thus, if a 
manufacturer does not, at a minimum, drive the left and right front 
channels to rated per channel power during power output testing of a 
multichannel amplifier, the test results will not provide a useful 
measurement of the amplifier's ability to play such content.\6\ 
Furthermore, the most prominent disclosed output in any direct or 
indirect representation of the power output of a multichannel amplifier 
must treat the left and right front channels, at a minimum, as being 
associated.
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    \5\ See, e.g., Tomlinson Holman, Surround Sound, 197 (Focal 
Press 2007) (discussing the soundtrack for the beach landing scenes 
of the film Saving Private Ryan, and noting the importance of a pure 
stereo mix in the left front and right front channels); What is 
Surround Sound, (http://www.customhomeaudio.net/customhomeaudio/surroundsound.html) (``There is one center speaker which carries 
most of the dialog . . . and part of the soundtrack. There are left 
and right front speakers that carry most of the soundtrack (music 
and sound effects).''); What is Surround Sound?, (http://www.tech-faq.com/surround-sound.shtml) (``[The front right and front left 
speakers] are usually the most important speakers in your surround 
sound set up. Most of the music or sound will come from these two 
speakers.'').
    \6\ This procedure also will promote consistency between the per 
channel power output ratings for stereo amplifiers and multichannel 
amplifiers.
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    Finally, the Commission notes that pursuant to Sec.  432.2 and 
Sec.  432.4 of the Rule, marketers must express all power output 
disclosures in minimum watts ``per channel.'' Consequently, 
representations of aggregate power output, such as ``500 watts'' or 
``500 watts total power'' for an amplifier with five channels that can 
output 100 minimum watts per channel, would not comply with the 
Amplifier Rule.

IV. Conclusion

    For the reasons described above, the Commission has determined to 
retain the current Amplifier Rule.

List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 432

    Amplifiers, Home entertainment products, Trade practices.

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 41-58.
    By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2010-1418 Filed 1-25-10; 11:14 am]
BILLING CODE 6750-01-S