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FCC Proposes $25,000 Fine for Breaking Now-Voluntary Labeling Rules


The FCC has proposed fining Acuity Brands Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia, $25,000 for apparently marketing radio frequency devices that were not labeled in accordance with Commission Part 18 rules at the time. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) on November 21. Compliance with the particular rule at issue now is voluntary.

“Specifically, Acuity marketed three models of consumer-grade electronic fluorescent lighting ballasts — two since 2006 and one since 2009 — that did not have the FCC logo affixed to them,” the FCC said in the NAL. Application of the FCC logo, which the FCC no longer requires, was to inform purchasers that a device had undergone compliance testing. The FCC also said Acuity continued to market two models of the ballasts at issue for approximately 6 months after being notified, causing the Commission to up the penalty.

“We take this action today as part of our duty to ensure that radio frequency devices are marketed in accordance with the Commission’s rules,” the FCC said. “Consistent with this goal, we find it necessary to enforce the rules requiring that devices subject to equipment authorization are properly labeled to inform a consumer that such devices have been tested for compliance under the Commission’s technical rules, because those devices could easily cause interference if they do not conform to those rules.

In January 2016, the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) conducted tests on Acuity’s AccuPro Model AP-RC-432IP-120-1 fluorescent lighting ballast after receiving complaints of interference said to have been caused by the ballasts. The matter was referred to the FCC Enforcement Bureau, to determine whether Acuity marketed the model at issue before receiving equipment authorization. In a Letter of Inquiry, the Bureau directed Acuity to submit a sworn written response to questions regarding its “marketing of potentially non-compliant fluorescent lighting ballasts.”

A footnote in the NAL points out that the use of the FCC logo became voluntary on November 2, but Accuity’s alleged violations occurred before that. The FCC adopted a rule that allows the FCC logo to be physically placed on a device at the discretion of the responsible party consistent with §18.209, but “only if [the] device complies with the applicable equipment authorization rules.” Presence of the logo “will not obviate the need to provide required compliance information or maintain pertinent records related to device testing,” the FCC said in adopting the change.

Acuity submitted test reports showing that the two types of fluorescent lighting ballasts it markets did comply with relevant technical requirements, but the company conceded that three models of its consumer-grade lighting ballasts did not have an FCC logo affixed for nearly 10 years.

After receiving the LOI, the FCC said, Acuity “took preliminary steps to bring the labeling of the subject ballasts into compliance.”

ARRL has in the past — and without response — complained to the FCC regarding the marketing and sale of interference-causing lighting ballasts, as well as about a lack of required compliance notifications.



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