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


Action Alerts:

5/14/15: Protect Wireless Technology for the Performing Arts The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may soon rule on several proceedings that will impact the use of wireless microphones. The FCC is proposing that entities using fewer than 50 microphones would not be able to register in a geo-location database which provides interference protection. This will affect many performing arts organizations, venues, and productions. The FCC is also considering a longer-term home for wireless microphones in a different area of the broadcast spectrum. Moving within the spectrum would mean arts organizations would have to purchase expensive new equipment. Many already did this in 2010—spending $25K–$100K—when the FCC mandated wireless microphones vacate the 700 MHz band of the broadcast spectrum. Nonprofit performing arts organizations, commercial theaters, schools, and performers have all relied on wireless microphone technology which operates within the radio frequencies between broadcast channels of the television band. These frequencies are called “white space.” Wireless backstage communications systems also operate in white space and are integral to stagehands and technical crew. Interference to backstage communications could compromise the safety of performers, technicians, and audiences.

ACTION: Ask your Representative to protect wireless technology used in the performing arts! Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), co-chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus, are circulating a sign-on letter in the House of Representatives urging the FCC to protect wireless microphones. The letter will be sent to the FCC later this month. Ask your Representative to sign on to this letter by close of business on Thursday, May 21.

5/15/14: Limited Expansion of Part 74 Licensing for Wireless Microphones At an Open Meeting on May 15, the FCC adopted rules expanding Part 74 license eligibility to include sound companies and venues regularly using at least 50 wireless microphones. The rules are intended to ensure interference protection and high quality sound for large events. After the auction, the Commission anticipates there will be one channel in each area which would be available for shared use by wireless microphones and TV white space devices. PAA continues to advocate for two safe-haven channels of spectrum for wireless microphones to protect against interference, as well as eligibility for performing arts venues using at least 25 microphones to obtain a license from the FCC.

ACTION: Read PAA’s Ex Parte Letter to the FCC on May 7.

10/30/13: New FCC Chairman is Moving Fast to Change Radio Frequency Laws With the new chairman in place, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is quickly moving forward on spectrum auctions, which is the FCC’s plan to work with broadcasters to voluntarily auction unused spectrum in the television band. While nonprofit performing arts organizations, commercial theatres, schools and performers have all relied on wireless microphones operating within certain frequencies, the FCC wants to auction off portions of this broadcast spectrum called “white space” which may require wireless microphone operations to move which would necessitate the purchase of new sound equipment, and would also likely increase the chance of harmful interference from new white space devices.


ACTION: Contact your representatives today and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013. This bill, introduced by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1-IL), will protect performing arts wireless technology such as microphones and backstage communications systems operating in the "white space.

8/1/13: Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013 Introduced in the House Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st IL) introduced to the House H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, which would set in place certain protections for users of wireless microphones and wireless technologies. The bill asks the Federal Communications Commission to expand eligibility for Part 74 licenses to certain wireless microphone users including the performing arts sector, to establish safe haven channels for wireless microphones, and to authorize access by owners and operators of wireless microphones to the TV bands databases for the purpose of protecting wireless microphone operations from interference. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

ACTION:Contact your Representative and ask them to support H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013 today!

7/29/13: TCG and the PAA Host A Capitol Hill Forum on Wireless Technology TCG along with Rep. Rush and his staff hosted “Pardon the Interruption,” a forum on Capitol Hill addressing the need to protect broadcast and wireless microphones used in the performing arts and other sectors. The event was held in conjunction with Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-1st-IL) development of H.R. 2911, the Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, which he introduced to the House on August 1. This forum stressed the importance of wireless technology to the performing arts and other industries’ abilities to produce high quality experiences for their audiences. The FCC was urged to protect wireless microphones when it conducts spectrum auctions. Theatre Communication Group’s Laurie Baskin represented PAA, testifying on a panel of stakeholders that included Julius Knapp, Federal Communications Commission; Tom Pope, First Baptist Church of Glenarden; Louis Libin, Broad Comm., Inc. (representing the NFL); and Maureen Bunyan, ABC 7 local news. Harvey Fierstein, Tony-award winning actor and playwright also participated, delivering testimony on the importance of this issue to the NYC Broadway theatre community. To read Laurie Baskin's complete remarks, click here. To read Harvey Fierstein's complete remarks: click here.

ACTION: Listen to this story from NPR that mentions the forum and talks about this issue. Learn more about white space in the PAA Issue Center.

Archived White Space Action Alerts here

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