AFM Applauds FCC Decision

September 27, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission released a decision on September 23, 2010 regarding the use of “white spaces,” which sets aside space for wireless microphones to operate without interference from mobile broadband devices. This is a welcome relief for theaters, concert halls, and other venues that use wireless microphones for live performances.

“White spaces” are the unused spectrum frequencies between TV channels. High quality wireless microphones, such as the ones used for musical and theatrical performances, have been authorized by the FCC to operate within the same spectrum frequencies as television broadcasters since 1974. Recently, a coalition of tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, has been lobbying to gain access to white spaces in order to improve mobile broadband services.

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and other stakeholders have been concerned about the impact of allowing mobile broadband devices to access the same frequency because it would likely cause interference with wireless microphones. The FCC’s ruling, which sets aside certain TV channels in each market solely for microphone usage so they can operate without interference, is a major victory for musicians and other live performers.

“This decision will protect live performances in Broadway theaters and musical entertainment venues across the country,” said AFM International President Ray Hair. “We have been working hard for the protection of wireless microphones, and we are pleased that the FCC has recognized the need to set aside frequencies for them to operate without interference.”