The Issue of White Space and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Action Alerts:

News Alert! Movement on Protecting Wireless Microphones for the Performing Arts - On September 23, 2010, The FCC ruled that portions of the broadcast spectrum called white space would be shared by wireless microphones used in the performing arts and by new white space devices (aka TV Band Devices) yet to be developed. Because interference between wireless microphones and white space devices could be a concern, the FCC ordered several protection measures. These messures are now being reconsidered. Learn what's now at stake for wireless microphone users:

Threats to safe-haven channels designated for wireless microphones:
In the current spectrum auction and repacking rulemaking, the FCC indicated it was considering eliminating the two safe haven channels the FCC had previously designated for wireless microphones. Some wireless microphone users have advocated that they would have to compete for bandwidth with a growing number of mobile broadband devices and other heavy spectrum users.  If these two reserved channels are eliminated, interference for wireless microphone users would increase and they would no longer be able to depend on this vital technology to do their work and serve the public.

A Reliable geo-location database:
Given the thousands of performances held by arts organizations each year that rely on wireless devices, it is essential that the FCC’s interference protection works successfully. A reliable geo-location database will avoid interference between wireless microphones and TV Band Devices.

High cost of replacing equipment to operate in new spectrum:
Our nation’s nonprofit performing arts organizations make substantial financial investments in their technical equipment, including wireless microphones and backstage communications devices. In 2010, these organizations were subject to an FCC rule that required wireless microphone users to cease using equipment that operated in the 700 MHz band of spectrum. Many performing arts organizations were required to relocate to another band of spectrum which brought unanticipated expenses of $25,000-$100,000 to purchase new equipment that could operate in another band of spectrum.

In an effort to raise federal revenues, the Administration and Congress have authorized spectrum auctions, putting up for sale the rights/licenses to use certain bands of spectrum. After auctions, the FCC will reorganize and repack the spectrum that has been made available and may require wireless microphones to relocate to a different part of the spectrum. If that happens, performing arts organizations may yet again have to purchase new, expensive equipment. The valuable public benefits produced by our nation’s performing arts sector should be considered in any future plan to reallocate or ”repack” the broadcast spectrum as a result of these auctions.
More information on the white space issue can be found on TCG's White Space legislative issue page.

News Alert! TCG Leads Capitol Hill Briefing and Bill to Protect Wireless Microphones -In late July 2013, TCG partnered with the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York) and The Broadway League to represent theatres in the coalition of performing arts organizations, religious institutions and professional sports leagues supporting PARDON THE INTERRUPTION: a Capitol Hill Forum to protect wireless microphones from the threat of harmful interference posed by the reorganization of the broadcast spectrum and a new generation of electronic devices. TCG worked closely with the staff in the office of Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1-IL) to prepare HR 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, which he introduced in the House on August 1st. This bill will require the FCC to offer various interference protections to wireless microphone users. Find additional resources and information about what TCG has been doing to protect wireless microphones on our White Space issue page.

4/5/11: Protect Wireless Microphones Used by Performing Arts Organizations
Professional wireless sound equipment is used to provide high-quality audio to performing arts audiences. The FCC's introduction of new wireless devices in radio frequencies currently used for wireless microphone and related audio equipment could have a negative impact on theatres’ backstage operations.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to oppose legislation that would allow unlicensed devices to threaten wireless microphones used in theaters and nonprofit performance venues. Click here to send your elected officials a message protecting wireless microphones used by theatres.

2/4/10: FCC Issues Notice to Vacate the 700s MGz Band
On January 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking making effective their call for wireless microphone users to vacate the 700 MHz spectrum by June 12, 2010.  Performing arts organizations using wireless microphones must comply with the FCC's order and leave the 700 MHz Band as soon as possible. 
If you have not already done so, be sure to confirm the frequencies on which your wireless microphones operate.  If they operate in the 700 MHz Band, consult the FCC's online resource to verify if your equipment can be modified to operate outside of the affected spectrum.  Depending on make and model, some of your equipment could be re-banded with a new frequency range, so it is important to begin this process immediately.

1/27/10: TCG joins Coalition of Wireless Microphone Users  Theatre Communications Group has joined the Coalition of Wireless Microphone Users (CWMU) led by the Broadway League. This coalition also includes organizations from other sectors which utilize wireless microphone technology. Government Affairs Staff from the Performing Arts Alliance have had meetings with senior staff in both commissioner Copps and McDowell’s offices, and on September 11, TCG executive director Teresa Eyring, along with other representatives of the CWMU met with Ruth Milkman, Wireless Communications Bureau Chief; Erin McGrath, advisor to Commissioner Baker; and David Goldman, legal advisor to Chairman Genachowski. They discussed the White Space issue and FCC staff members were receptive to the concerns expressed by the CWMU.  ACTION: Sign up for action alerts from the Performing Arts Alliance.

6/10/08: Protect Wireless Microphones
The FCC’s introduction of new wireless devices in radio frequencies currently used for wireless microphone and related audio equipment could have a negative impact on our communities, performers, and audiences.
Ask your Representative and Senators to oppose legislation that would allow unlicensed devices to threaten wireless microphones used in theaters and nonprofit performance venues. Click here to see the Performing Arts Alliance Webpage, an Action Alert on this issue, and to access a sample letter.

10/30/07: FCC Rulemaking May Threaten Performing Arts Wireless Microphones!

The FCC is under pressure to approve new wireless devices to operate in the so-called "White Space." These are the same wireless frequencies used by wireless microphones in our theatres and could jeopardize your system. This issue is the most serious technology issue the American arts community has faced in the last 30 years. The FCC could act in early November on this issue.
ACTION: If your theatre has not yet filed comments with the FCC, please visit the Performing Arts Alliance website for more information.


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