MSTV chief urges New York City Council to enter white space device battle

The impact of allowing unlicensed white space devices to operate in television spectrum “will be devastating” to over-the-air TV viewers in New York City, Association for Maximum Service Television president David Donovan told the New York City Council in testimony Sept. 29.

Donovan addressed the city council to urge it to make its concerns about unlicensed white spaces known to the Federal Communications Commission as it proceeds with expected rulemaking regarding white space devices.

OTA viewers in the nation’s No. 1 television market will experience “significant interruptions” in their television service as result of interference from such devices, Donovan said. Problems with such interference will be particularly bad in high-population-density metro areas like New York City where one unlicensed device operating in a nearby apartment or building can generate interference for multiple viewers, he said. As a result of not being licensed, it will be next to impossible to track down the source of such interference and take corrective action, he said.

Of particular concern are minority and low-income populations that disproportionately have a heavy reliance on OTA television reception, said Donovan. According to the MSTV president, Spanish-language networks, including Univision, Entravision and Telemundo, have voiced this concern to the FCC.

Donovan also reminded the city council that during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers, more than 1 million New Yorkers lost all video because a cable hub located at the site was destroyed. “For some time, the CBS broadcasts from the Empire State Building were the only video images for these citizens,” he said in prepared remarks. Interference from unlicensed white space devices in a similar circumstance could jeopardize “critically important” government communications to citizens, he added.

Donovan’s presentation also addressed the threat white space devices pose to wireless mic users. While emphasizing the importance of wireless mics in news coverage, Donovan also pointed out to the city council that tests conducted by the FCC at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., and the Majestic Theater in the Broadway theater district found that prototype white space devices failed to detect the presence of wireless mics. “Broadway, which generates billions of dollars to the New York economy, requires interference-free microphones,” he said.

“As the largest media market in the United States, New York has a unique interest in the FCC’s proceeding,” he said.