Broadcasters Push for ‘White Space’ Comments

The Federal Communications Commission is being urged to follow its standard operating procedures and to seek comments on the Office of Engineering and Technology’s “white space” report, issued last week. The National Association of Broadcasters, the Association for Maximum Service Television, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the Open Mobile Video Coalition filed an emergency request seeking public comments on the report prior to any approval for unlicensed wireless devices. The report [PDF], “Evaluation of the Performance of Prototype TV-Band White Space Devices Phase II,” approves the concept of unlicensed wireless devices, but it also noted potential interference problems for both over-the-air broadcasters and cable systems. FCC Chair Kevin Martin has proposed a Nov. 4 vote on the approval of such devices. “Simply put, until two days ago, it has been the Commission’s practice to adopt rules based on complex data only after allowing the public an opportunity to comment on that data,” the broadcasters stated in filing their request. “Failure to provide adequate opportunity for public comment on information so central to the outcome of this proceeding raises serious questions about compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act.” Beyond broadcasters, other groups have expressed concern over interference that could result from unlicensed wireless devices, including sports leagues, Broadway theater groups, cable operators and networks, wireless microphone manufacturers, religious groups and 70 lawmakers.