Churches Face Wireless Mic Challenges

The elimination of frequencies above 698 MHz (channel 51) for wireless microphones does not appear to have had a major impact on broadcasters, as they were able to plan for the move and replace non-compliant equipment. Churches have not been as fortunate, as outlined in the article Consequences steep for churches that do not obey new FCC mic rule on

Small churches say that they are finding it difficult to handle the expense of purchasing new wireless mics.

"For a smaller membership church, that's a pretty good outlet of cash," said Keith Hibbs, director of the office of worship leadership and church music for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. "It is expensive; [but] it just has to be swallowed."

The article warns that church leaders could be held personally liable for fines amounting to more than $100,000, or imprisonment, if their church does not comply.

The article provides information on how churches can verify if their wireless systems are compliant.

It also highlights an area that proponents of the National Broadband Plan's goal of taking 120 MHz (almost half the usable spectrum for wireless microphones) from broadcast television may not have fully considered.

Recently I've heard reports that broadcasters are having trouble finding frequencies for wireless microphones, as LPTV stations move to channels below 52 and fill in all of the "vacant" UHF TV space that was formerly available for wireless microphones. Participants in the FCC Broadcast Engineers Forum pointed out that under the National Broadband Plan there will not be enough channels for all the full-power stations currently broadcasting in many of the larger markets and no channels for low-power TV and wireless mics.

The OBI analysis of the National Broadband Plan mentioned wireless microphones and LPTV, but provided no suggestion as to how these uses could be accommodated when there wouldn't be enough broadcast TV spectrum left to support the full-power broadcast TV stations, even with channel sharing.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.