White spaces on the agenda


The call is coming from all seemingly quarters to apply the brakes in the consideration of allowing unlicensed devices into the white spaces between television stations. But the matter is still on the agenda for the 11/4/08 Open Meeting.

Coming from the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, the item reads:  Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands (ET Docket No. 04-186); and Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz and in the 3 GHz Band (ET  Docket No. 02-380). SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order to consider rules for operation of low power devices in the broadcast television spectrum.”

Other items on the agenda include a look at closed captioning requirements in the digital television era, a look at rules governing distributed transmission system (“DTS”) technologies in the digital television, and a number of proposed wireless transactions and a universal service item.

In general, the meeting looks just as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin described it in remarks to reporters back on 10/15/08. Notably absent on the docket is a consideration of a proposal to grant cable must-carry rights to Class A television stations, which sparked controversy when it was dropped with very little warning from the October meeting, held in Nashville TN and attended by numerous highly disappointed Class A proponents who didn’t get the word or could not cancel travel plans. Also lurking within the FCC but not surfacing at this meeting is the look into rules to promote broadcast localism.

RBR/TVBR observation: When there is a hot item on the agenda, it has not been at all unusual during under the chairmanship of Kevin Martin for a delayed start. The Open Meetings generally kick off at 9:30 or 10:00 AM, but this one has a tee time of 11:00 AM. There is no doubt a good reason for the later time, but we can’t help wondering if just maybe an arm-twisting period was built into the schedule.