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Martin Eyes Freeze on Wireless-Microphone Licenses

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin proposed a freeze on issuing new wireless-microphone licenses in the 700-megahertz band.

The FCC is reclaiming the 700-MHz spectrum -- channels 52-69 -- after the switch to digital, and it needs to figure out what to do with the licensed mikes already used by broadcasters and others.

In addition to the freeze, Martin is asking how the rules should be changed given the number of unlicensed mike users in that band, as well.

David Donovan of the Association for Maximum Service Television said the microphone issue raises some "very important questions," adding that reclaiming that band will reduce the spectrum available for wireless mikes used by news reporters and newsrooms.

"This would appear to make it more difficult to place unlicensed devices on channels 21-51 since the demand for wireless-mike spectrum will increase on those channels," he added.