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NRB Won’t Bless White Spaces

The head of National Religious Broadcasters warned that "Christian messages" could be "silenced" if the Federal Communications Commission approves unlicensed devices in the digital-TV "white spaces" without conclusive proof that they will not interfere with TV stations or wireless microphones.

Frank Wright, president of NRB, wrote Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), warning congressional leaders that they could open a "Pandora’s box" of problems if they let loose "inadequately tested" unlicensed devices into the marketplace.

Religious broadcasters fear that the devices will wreak havoc on both their TV-station signals and the wireless microphones used in many churches. Wright told Boehner they could cause a "crippling blow to our members' production efforts in communicating the Gospel message."

Wright told Boehner Congress should make sure that the white spaces remained off-limits to unlicensed devices until and unless there were assurances of no interference.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin said Friday that he hoped the commission would be able to take some action on opening up the white spaces, but he and other commissioners have said they, too, want to make sure that the devices do not interfere with the DTV signals broadcasters are switching to Feb. 17, 2009.

The FCC is currently testing the devices. Those tests continue to turn up reception issues that supporters said are simply speed bumps on the road to approval and opponents said reveal serious flaws that call the spectrum-sharing plan into question.