FTC Proposes Amplifier Rule Amendments for Enhanced Consumer Comparisons in Home Entertainment

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission recenty issued supplemental proposed amendments to its Amplifier Rule to help consumers make direct comparisons of home entertainment amplifiers.

The Amplifier Rule, formally known as the Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products, regulates power output claims for home entertainment amplifiers so consumers can more easily compare products before purchasing. It was enacted by the FTC in 1974 in response to amplifier advertisements that relied on widely disparate and, at times, deceptive testing methods, leaving consumers without a way to reliably shop for amplifiers. The Rule was last reviewed and revised in 2008.

In December 2020, the FTC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments regarding public support for the rule and proposed changes or modifications the FTC should consider, as part of its routine regulatory review. After evaluating the comments r, in July 2022, the Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional comments on standardizing certain test conditions for measuring amplifier power output and also on the parameters of consumers’ normal use of multichannel home theater amplifiers.

After evaluating the comments received on these and other issues, the FTC has now approved a supplemental Federal Register notice proposing amending the rule to require uniform test conditions for measuring amplifier power output; improve differentiation between power output disclosures that comply with the rule’s test conditions and those that do not; and modernize and clarify language in the rule related to these modifications. Additionally, the Commission has proposed formalizing its prior guidance on applying the rule to multichannel amplifiers.

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The Commission vote approving publication of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking announcing the amendments was 3-0. It will be published in the Federal Register shortly. Written comments must be received within 60 days of the date the notice is published. Comments can be filed electronically at https://www.regulations.gov.

The lead FTC staff member on this matter is Hong Park, an attorney in the FTC’s Enforcement Division.

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