Broadcasters can use white spaces for broadband

The lobbying campaign to protect spectrum white space ratcheted up another notch last week when the heads of four broadcast networks urged the FCC to limit use of unlicensed devices.

Jeff Zucker, president and CEO, NBC Universal; Peter Chernin, president and CEO, News Corp.; Robert Iger, president and CEO, Walt Disney; and Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS, asked the FCC to be cautious in their efforts to open the spectrum.

In a joint letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the four executives echoed broadcast industry arguments that unlicensed wireless devices could cause interference and “permanent damage” to over-the-air television transmissions.

“Interference in the digital world will cause a digital picture to freeze and become unwatchable,” the group wrote.

However, unlike some opponents of the white space initiative, the executives brought up the notion that use of the spectrum by others could also compete with its own business interests.

“The analog spectrum being vacated by the broadcasters in 2009 and auctioned by the FCC in early 2008 will be available for multiple uses, including the same types of broadband services envisioned by those who seek to operate on an unlicensed basis in the digital spectrum allocated for free, over-the-air broadcasting,“ the executives noted.

The executives had no objections to a “fixed” broadband system, which does not operate on a co-channel or adjacent channel. That, they said, “will help expand broadband opportunities without causing interference to digital television receivers.”

Those “broadband opportunities,” of course, would be controlled by broadcasters and not members of the coalition of companies seeking use of white space spectrum.