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FCC Denies NAB Petition to Revoke White Spaces Certification

The FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to deny a petition by broadcasters to reconsider its authorization of one of the former database administrators for the TV white spaces, Nominet UK which has since sold its database management tech to  RED Technologies). White spaces are spectrum in the TV band between channels that the FCC is allowing for unlicensed use.

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel had signaled the agency would vote at its January 27 meeting to reject the petition, but the vote came early and was released Wednesday (January 26).

Database managers are supposed to make sure that unlicensed signals do not interfere with incumbent TV stations by providing a list of available channels to white spaces devices.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which was never a big fan of the white spaces regime, argued in its petition that Nominet’s database contains “numerous” errors — which could lead to interference with TV-station signals — and that it should be decertified until the errors are corrected.

Nominet countered that the errors were due to difficulties importing data from the FCC and it had “immediately” corrected the problem. The FCC was apparently assuaged.

“We find that the database errors discovered by NAB, which were immediately corrected by Nominet, are not grounds to revoke the designation of Nominet as a white space database administrator,” it said in denying the petition.

The FCC thanked NAB for its input, but suggested it was “no harm, no foul.”

“While we are denying NAB’s petition, we underscore that we appreciate NAB bringing these concerns to the attention of the commission and Nominet so that the errors could be remedied,” the order said. “However, we do not believe that these errors show any fundamental deficiency on the part of the database administrator but appear to be the result of issues related to the Commission’s transition from the CDBS [its consolidated database system] to the LMS [licensing and management system] combined with an inadvertent failure by Nominet to include all of the latest updates in its final version of the database.”

NAB had not been pressing the petition given that Nominet had sold its database to RED Technologies  ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.