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White Spaces Meeting Start Delayed...And Delayed

It's 3:30. Do you know where your FCC meeting is? 

As Tuesday afternoon moved on, the commission had still not begun its monthly meeting--scheduled to start at 11 a.m.--even after clearing a number of items off the agenda that were either pulled or already voted on.

The four-plus hour delay harkened back to monthly meetings on other high-profile issues.

It was increasingly unclear which vote would be finalized first, the presidential race, or white spaces devices. There was at least one vote coming out of the commission at press time, but that was a staffer who was ducking out to cast his ballot in the election.

A source said the hold-up was language on a notice of inquiry that would be part of the decision.

At press time there was an audience in the commission room but the commissioners' chairs remained empty and there was no sign of the five, currently not-sitting, commissioners.

After several revisions, the FCC agenda contained a handful of wireless items and one big, high-profile, decision about allowing unlicensed mobile devices to use the so-called "white spaces" in the TV band. The commission was widely expected to vote to approve the item, though the devil was said to be in the details of the order.

Another source said part of the hold-up had been commissioners still working on their statements, which will take care to emphasize the need for protecting TV signals and wireless microphones. The vote is expected to be unanimous, and the delay was said not to be because of butting heads between commissioners--which has accounted for some past delays--but because of the need for carefully crafting and drafting the statements, particularly given the many calls for delaying the vote and putting the relevant FCC report out for public comment that came from a wide variety of sources.

The meeting should start "soon" said one FCC staffer, but could provide no timetable. A graphic on the local government affairs channel had at one time said the meeting would start at 1:45, but that time had come and gone.