TV set-top boxes fail safety tests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2008, 12:00am

Safety concerns about digital television set-top boxes were raised after four of 10 brands sampled by the Consumer Council showed safety deficiencies.

Samples of the four brands of set-top boxes - Tsingwah Digital Technology, Draco, Creation and RCA - fell short of the widely adopted International Electrotechnical Commission standards, it said yesterday.

In tests conducted by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, they all displayed deficiencies in safety.

The TV set-top boxes of these four brands were found to pose a risk of electric-current leakage because of unsatisfactory design or manufacturing details.

However, all four brands had received approval labels from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta).

The voluntary labelling scheme, introduced at the beginning of the year, invites suppliers of set-top boxes to register and to submit their safety certificates to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department for labels confirming their capacity to provide reception.

Legislator Fred Li Wah-ming, a member of the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel and of the Consumer Council's board, said the test results were ironic.

'The Ofta labelling system failed to assure the public about the quality of TV set-up boxes because it was done hastily, without proper planning,' he said.

The Consumer Council received 36 complaints about set-top boxes in the first five months of this year, mainly over illegal sales practices.

The council heard that some salespeople had allegedly spread rumours that analogue TV channels would be replaced by digital broadcasting by the end of this year. In fact, the government has only considered ending analogue TV service by 2012.

Mr Li urged the government to step up efforts to control the quality of set-top boxes, as well as inform the public about the introduction of digital broadcasting.

All 10 samples selected by the Consumer Council were tested for quality of construction, protection against electric shock, resistance to heat, temperature rise, and marking and instructions.

The other six brands received a perfect safety score.

A spokeswoman for the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said the safety issues detected were minor and did not amount to non-compliance.

The companies had agreed to improve quality, she said.