Blown To Bits

White Spaces

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Today is supposed to be the day for an FCC decision on allowing unlicensed use of the “white spaces” between television broadcast channels. The television industry and Broadway have lined up against it — television with predictions of screens going dark all across America because of interference, and Broadway (aligned, improbably, with churches) predicting that their wireless microphones won’t work any more. The FCC engineers have been studying this for six years and have concluded that these fears are exaggerated (cf. Chapter 8 of Blown to Bits). But the entertainment industries are powerful, and so are churches.

A good story in the New York Times on this today, and a good post last week by Susan Crawford. The Times has a good quote from the FCC chairman on this.

“We’re being very cautious about protecting the broadcasters, but at the same time making sure the technology allows us to make greater use of this invaluable resource,” Mr. Martin said.

He added that he thought some opponents, like the broadcasters, were fighting the proposal because they were unnerved by the rise of interactive tools that offered a less passive media experience. “The empowerment of consumers is threatening,” he said.

And it turns out that most of those wireless microphones that churches and Broadway are so concerned about being functional in the future were never operating within FCC regulations anyway. They are essentially arguing that their illegal use of the spectrum should be grandfathered.

One Response to “White Spaces”

  1. Harry Lewis Says:

    The FCC has, happily, approved the proposal for unlicensed spectrum use.