NAB, MSTV urge FCC chairman to consider white-space use carefully

In a joint letter last week, the leaders of the trade associations warned FCC chairman Kevin Martin of the danger personal/portable wireless devices operating on unused TV channels pose to DTV reception.

The heads of two broadcast industry associations have urged FCC chairman Kevin Martin and the other members of the commission not to ignore scientific data they say raise “serious interference concerns” for DTV service and licensed wireless mics as the Federal Communication Commission decides whether to allow unlicensed TV devices to operate in so-called TV spectrum white spaces.

In a letter to Martin dated July 27, David Rehr, president and CEO of the NAB, and David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), restated the groups’ alarm over the findings of a DTV receiver interference report released by the FCC’s own Office of Engineering Technology this spring that found digital televisions will be “susceptible to interference from personal and portable unlicensed devices in 90 to 87 percent of a typical television station’s service area,” the letter said. (See: “DTV receivers susceptible to adjacent channel interference” for more information.)

The White Spaces Coalition, which counts some heavy hitters in the computer industry among its members, are pushing for the commission to allow unlicensed RF devices to use unoccupied TV spectrum for a new generation of devices. In the letter to Martin, the NAB and MSTV said they do not oppose the “appropriate use of vacant spaces” in the TV band. In particular, they expressed their support for the commission’s goal of providing broadband Internet service to rural America. However, the trade associations have drawn a distinction between rural broadband service and the efforts of the White Spaces Coalition to advocate “personal/portable” devices to use slices of the TV band.

The fact that such devices are portable is of particular concern to the broadcast associations because while their operation in one geographic location may not interfere with DTV reception, use of the same device in another locale may cause harmful interference. “Once these devices are released into the hands of consumers, it will be impossible to recall them or prevent their harmful effects,” the letter said.

In the letter, the pair told Martin “the billions of dollars” consumers and broadcasters are spending on the DTV transition demand the commission carefully consider the issue. “We have only one opportunity to get it right, and it is the obligation of government and industry to ensure a successful transition happens for the American viewers,” they said.

For more information, visit: