White space devices pass FCC test


FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says that an exhaustive study by FCC reports has confirmed that allowing unlicensed devices to operate between channels in television’s sector of the spectrum has been determined to be a valid concept. He is including an item on the topic on the upcoming 11/4/08 FCC Open  Meeting. Martin says test showed that devices which have geolocation capability and shield capability would be able to work with a maximum of 100 milliwatts. The locator would tell it what frequencies are being used for broadcast television stations in the area, as well as theaters, sports venues and other local facilities which use the spectrum. He said spectrum would also be allocated for wireless mics. Devices without the sensors would be limited to 40 milliwatts, and would have to be FCC-approved.

Also on the agenda: booster antennas for digital television stations so they can duplicate their old analog contours. This is to avoid the situation in which NBC WECT-TV found itself in Wilmington during the city’s DTV transition preview. Viewers of the station to both the north and south lost it due to a smaller digital contour, and for many there was no NBC facility available in its place.

Martin is also looking to updateclosed captioning rules to reflect new digital realities. A large part of the proposal would be for stations to use their websites to help consumers lodge closed captioning complaints.

 Martin also said he would like to see post-transition analog used to inform the left-behind, but doesn’t think the FCC has the authority, and is checking whether the FCC should get into the Arbitron PPM debate.

RBR/TVBR observation: Whatever the FCC does at the November meeting, it will have a hard time breaking into the news cycle – there’s an election going on that day that has generated just a smidgen of interest. As for Arbitron, we’ve argued that the FCC has no expertise in the ratings business; also, Arbitron isn’t licensed by the FCC, suggesting that it’s outside the FCC’s jurisdiction. We’ve seen the counter argument made, however, that since PPM relies on signals embedded in broadcast transmissions, it gives the FCC a peg upon which to hang its regulatory hat. Stay tuned. However, we still think the FCC should stay out of this one.