FCC Proposes To Deny NAB White Spaces Complaint

(Image credit: Future Media)

The FCC is proposing to deny a petition by broadcasters to reconsider its authorization of one of the database administrators for the TV white spaces -- Nominet UK (now RED Technologies). The white spaces are spectrum in the TV band between channels that the FCC is allowing for unlicensed use.

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.

According to a draft of a decision teed up for the FCC's January public meeting, the FCC says it agrees with Nominet: "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 noted that Nominet was the first administrator who had to use a new commission system rather than the "older, well understood" one.

The FCC also pointed out that since NAB's 2019 petition was filed, it has taken steps to improve the accuracy of the data in the white spaces databases to minimize the potential for harmful interference. ■

John Eggerton

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.