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HQ 953835

October 5, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953835 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 8525.30.00

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island, Room 2017
San Pedro, California 90731

RE: Protest No. 2704-93-100380; VHS-C Camcorder; television camera; video recording or reproducing apparatus; 8521.10.00; Sears Roebuck and Co. v. U.S., Slip Ops. 92-60 and 92-148; Boast, Inc. v. United States; EN 85.25; McGraw- Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology

Dear District Director:

This is in response to the Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-93-100380, which pertains to the tariff classification of VHS-C Camcorders under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Arguments made by counsel on behalf of the protestant at a meeting on August 31, 1993, and information presented in a further submission dated September 7, 1993, were taken under consideration in preparing this decision.


The article at issue is a VHS-C Camcorder ("camcorder"). The entry of the camcorders was liquidated on October 30, 1992, under subheading 8525.30.00, HTSUS, which provides for television cameras. In a protest timely filed on January 27, 1993, counsel contends that the camcorders are properly classified under subheading 8521.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for video recording or reproducing apparatus.

The competing subheadings are:

8521.10.00 Video recording or reproducing apparatus...Magnetic tape-type....

8525.30.00 Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radiobroadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras...Television cameras.... ISSUE:

Is the VHS-C Camcorder classified as a video recording or reproducing apparatus under subheading 8521.10.00, HTSUS, or as a television camera under subheading 8525.30.00, HTSUS?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...."

The classification of camcorders within the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) (the precursor tariff to the HTSUS), was addressed in Sears Roebuck and Co. v. United States, 16 CIT , Slip Op. 92-60 (April 27, 1992) ("Sears I"), and Sears Roebuck and Co. v. United States, 16
CIT __, Slip Op. 92-148 (Aug. 28, 1992) ("Sears II"). The Court in Sears I determined that camcorders were not classified in item 685.49, TSUS, as a combination article consisting of a television camera and a tape recorder. After reviewing various definitions of television cameras from the time of enactment of the provision (1960), the Court determined that the camcorders did not consist of a television camera. The Court found that a television camera "converts visual images and sounds into electric signals and is used in connection with television transmission apparatus in transmitting electrical waves over a distance." Sears I, at 46. The Court determined that the Sears camcorders were used "for home recording, and its primary purpose is to make a tape of what appears before the lens." Id., at 47. The Court remanded the action to Customs to determine the proper classification of the camcorder.

On remand, Customs classified the camcorder in item 685.40, TSUS, as a tape recorder. The Court in Sears II determined that classification in item 685.40, TSUS, was correct. The Court found that Congress was aware of video tape recorders, as it had enacted TSUS language referencing magnetic video tape for recording pictures and sound in item 724.12, TSUS. Therefore, as it had not made a separate provision for video tape recorders, the Court concluded that Congress intended to include camcorders under the provision for tape recorders.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive, are to be given considerable weight in the interpretation of the HTSUS. Boast, Inc. v. United States, 17 CIT __, Slip Op. 93-20 (February 10, 1993). See also, H. Cong. R. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. at 549, reprinted in 1988 U.S. CODE CONG. & ADMIN. NEWS 1581-83.

EN 85.25 (pg. 1375) provides guidance on the intended scope of the term "television cameras." EN 85.25 states that

This heading covers television cameras, whether or not with an incorporated device for remote control of lens and diaphragm as well as for remote control of the horizontal and vertical movement of the camera (e.g., television cameras for television studios or for reporting, those used for industrial or scientific purposes or for supervision traffic). Cameras for underwater work and portable cameras with or without a built-in video recorder are also classified here (emphasis added).

We are of the opinion that the camcorders at issue are within the class or kind of merchandise classified, under the current language of the HTSUS, as "television cameras" under subheading 8525.30.00, HTSUS. EN 85.25 provides that the term "television camera" not only covers television broadcasting cameras, but also cameras for industrial and scientific purposes, underwater cameras, and portable cameras with built-in video recorders. The protestant states that all the cameras listed in EN 85.25 must meet the definition of television cameras stated in Sears I, which is "converts visual images and sounds into electric signals and is used in connection with television transmission apparatus in transmitting electrical waves over a distance." Sears I, 46.

However, we believe that the Sears I Court's understanding of the term "television camera", which was derived from the prevalent definitions of the time, has changed with technological evolution. As evidenced in EN 85.25 and modern technical sources, the term "television camera" has a broader meaning today than it had at the time of Sears I. The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol. 18, pgs. 189-193 (7th Edition, 1992), describes television camera as:

An electrooptical system used to pick up and convert a visual image or scene into an electrical signal called video. The video may be transmitted by cable or wireless means to a suitable receiver or monitor some distance from the actual scene. It may also be recorded on a video tape recorder for playback at a later time....

A television camera may fall within one of several categories: studio, portable, or telecine. It may also be one of several highly specialized cameras used for remote viewing of inaccessible places, such as the ocean bottom or the interior of nuclear power reactors....

Television cameras intended for industrial, consumer, or broadcast portable use are usually one piece, with all elements of the camera system contained in one assembly. Such cameras may be combined with a detachable or built-in videocassette recorder to form a camcorder. A broadcast- quality studio camera, on the other hand, usually consists of a separate head and camera control unit (CCU) connected by a multiple-conductor cable....

Portable cameras usually combine all the basic elements into one package and may be used for a multitude of purposes. They have found their way into electronic news gathering for broadcast television, and into electronic field production, where they can be used for production of broadcast programs, commercials, and educational programs...They have become so popular and inexpensive that they have almost completely supplanted film-based home movie cameras.

Based on EN 85.25 and the above cited description, it is evident that television cameras come in various forms such as stationary or portable studio or broadcast-quality cameras, consumer cameras and telecine cameras. All of these cameras pick up and convert a visual image or scene into an electrical signal, video, which is transmitted by cable or wireless means to a receiver or monitor for viewing and/or recording, or it is recorded on a video tape within the camera. The difference between the broadcast-quality and consumer cameras is the technical sophistication built into the camera. For example, broadcast-quality cameras have more lines of horizontal resolution which yield a sharper image and a higher signal-to- noise ratio which gives a less grainy image.

Subheading 8521.10.00, HTSUS, provides for video recording or reproducing apparatus. The camcorder is not classified under this subheading because, as discussed above, it is specifically classified as a television camera under subheading 8525.30.00, HTSUS. Accordingly, the camcorder is not classifiable under subheading 8521.10.00, HTSUS.


The VHS-C Camcorders are classified under subheading 8525.30.00, HTSUS, which provides for television cameras. The protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and provided to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director

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