Shure Presses FCC for Vacant TV Channels

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

In a meeting with a top advisor to acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel last week, microphone maker Shure urged the FCC to act on its petition to reopen the FCC's vacant channel proceeding, issue a further notice of proposed rulemaking to update the record, and then designate a channel for mics in each market to "ameliorate the significant loss of UHF spectrum wireless microphones have experienced as
a result of the broadcast incentive auction, repacking in the 600 MHz band, a prior FCC order migrating wireless microphones out of the 700 MHz band to be auctioned to communications carriers, and the introduction of White Space devices into unassigned TV spectrum utilized by wireless microphones."

In a victory for broadcasters, the FCC back in December 2020 decided not to reserve a vacant TV channel in each market for unlicensed white spaces devices and wireless microphones and terminated a five-year-old item that would have mandated that channel reservation.

Commercial and noncommercial broadcasters, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS, had urged the FCC to pull the plug on the item, arguing that it ran counter to the general precedent for favoring licensed over unlicensed services and because losing the channel could hinder their efforts to provide new offerings using the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard.

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters also opposed the vacant channel proceeding, arguing that it could potentially harm Black and other minority TV station ownership by foreclosing a new broadcast channel—perhaps minority owned—in those markets.

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.