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MSTV, NAB Challenge FCC Over White Spaces

The Association for Maximum Service Television and the National Association of Broadcasters now have their gloves on and have come out swinging in tandem at the FCC’s White Space Devices decision.

The two organizations, representing the interests of broadcasters and off-air television viewers, respectively, have decided to initiate a legal challenge to the Commission’s sanctioning of the WSD device technology, fearing that it will create widespread interference to television signals being delivered off-air.

MSTV and NAB have jointly filed a petition with the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking redress for the television viewers who could be disenfranchised. The document specifically requests that the Court shelve the FCCs’s Nov. 4, 2008 decision allowing the manufacture and use of WSDs for wireless broadband communications in spectrum space previously set aside exclusively for television broadcasting.

Kris Jones, director of the NAB’s media relations, commented that engineering tests have shown that operation of WSDs in the television broadcasting spectrum is “a guaranteed recipe” for creating interference.”

“The NAB will continue to advocate on behalf of the millions of American households who rely on broadcast television for entertainment, news and information,” Jones said.

David Donovan, MSTV president, was somewhat more vocal in his statement regarding the recent filing of the petition, castigating former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s actions in approving WSD operation, and also questioning Martin’s timing in putting the matter to a vote.

“Many decisions reached during Chairman Martin’s administration did not comport with facts presented in the record,” Donovan said. “In this specific case, specific evidence of interference to over-the-air digital television and cable reception was ignored. Chairman Martin insisted that the FCC reach a decision on Election Day 2009, while members of Congress and the public were otherwise occupied.”

Donovan termed Martin’s actions a “rush to judgment” and stated that approval of the devices would cause interference to tens of millions of television viewers.

“Important rules and policies concerning review of scientific documents and public comment were cast aside,” Donovan said.

The petition was filed on Feb. 27 and seeks relief “from the Commission’s decision to permit unlicensed devices to operate in the broadcast television spectrum on the grounds that the decision was arbitrary, capricious and otherwise not in accordance with law.”

The off-air television advocate organizations ask that the “Court hold unlawful, vacate and set aside the [FCC’s] Second Report and Order and grant such relief as may be necessary and proper under the circumstances.”