PISC to FCC: Reserve Wireless Mic Channels, Just Not Exclusively

Unlicensed spectrum backers have told the FCC that network news folks are off base when they say they need to keep two TV channels reserved exclusively for wireless microphones.

In a meeting with FCC officials, the representatives of the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC), in this case from New America Foundation, Public Knowledge and Common Cause, argued that network news operation complaints about having to share any of that spectrum with unlicensed users would put lifesaving information at risk was not true.

PISC told the FCC that there was no need to reserve the channels exclusively for microphone use because those network news gatherers and others have access to vacant channels not available to unlicensed devices. They said they still supported reserving the channels for wireless mics, just not exclusively when, in most cases, they have options to use other vacant channels that can meet their needs "in ordinary circumstances."

"Although we acknowledged that professional microphone operators need the two reserved channels for certain very large and complicated events (e.g., televised professional sports, major civic events, multi-performance venues such as the Kennedy Center), we believe that on a day-to-day basis microphones can rely first (as they do now) on out-of-market TV co-channels that are not available for unlicensed use," PISC said.

The FCC is currently deciding how to divide up the broadcast spectrum among broadcasters, wireless companies and unlicensed device users.

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.