News organizations urge FCC to preserve two wireless mic channels for each market

A group of competing news organizations came together last week to urge the FCC to preserve two channels for wireless microphone use in each market for news organizations.

“Without interference-free wireless microphones, newsgatherers simply would lack a reliable way to deliver the live, breaking news that all Americans—regardless of the medium they interact with—find important in their daily lives, said the group, made of up of CBS, ABC, WNET, Hearst, Tribune, TimeWarner, the RTDNA and others.

“Whether a viewer or listener is getting information from a television set, laptop or smart phone, the journalist in the field is almost certainly relying on an extremely efficient, low power wireless microphone,” the letter said. “These devices—typically operating at just 50 milliwatts and utilizing just a sliver of precious spectrum—serve a central but under-appreciated function in the dissemination of news and information.”

The news organizations asked the Commission to consider the complex issues involving wireless microphones and to preserve interference-free service for news coverage. We “urge the Commission to ensure that, even after the conclusion of the incentive auction contemplated by this proceeding, electronic news gatherers maintain the same ability they have today to use wireless microphones without risk of interference.”

Specifically, the groups asked that the FCC retain in each market the two channels reserved today for wireless microphone use. “To be clear, we are not seeking any new accommodations or set asides; rather, we are asking only that the Commission preserve the status quo so that we can be assured of having a place to operate post-auction,” the letter said.

“Suffice it to say, a band plan that eliminates all dedicated spectrum for wireless microphones—just three years after the Commission created the two-channel reservation with the express recognition of its importance—would be highly arbitrary and capricious,” the letter said.