New York (October 21, 2008)--The National Associations of Broadcasters has filed an emergency request for the FCC to follow its own standard practices for reviewing pending legislation. The move comes in the wake of last week's FCC Report that appeared to pave the way for a November 4 FCC vote to allow the use of 'white space' frequencies for communications devices. Typically, the FCC allows reports with heavy data to be commented on extensively by the public, but in this case, comments are only being taken through Monday, October 27.
The NAB released a strongly worded statement on Friday, October 17, that noted, "Simply put, until two days ago, it has been the Commission's practice to adopt rules based on complex data only after allowing the public an opportunity to comment on that data. Failure to provide adequate opportunity for public comment on information so central to the outcome of this proceeding raises serious questions about compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act."
After four years of discussion, tests, timetables and more, the sudden proverbial 'rush to judgment' has caught some industry watchers by surprise, raising concerns that the FCC is ramrodding the ruling through before the seating of a new president--at which time, traditionally, FCC Chairmen step down. Current Chairman Kevin Martin supports the use of white spaces for wireless internet devices; when Shure noted during testing that wireless mics were being interfered with, Martin rejoined by ruling that the mics would no longer be allowed to use that portion of spectrum.
Among those supporting the use of white spaces for these proposed devices are a coalition of companies that include Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Google.
The NAB's emergency request noted that Martin himself has previously insisted that such important legislation be given time to be examined and commented upon, citing a 2002 FCC matter regarding the operation of Part 15 unlicensed devices where Martin supported seeking public comment on key reports prior to taking action. "This item is based around several recommendations of the Commission's Spectrum Policy Task Force Report," he said. "If... the Task Force's work was instrumental to this item, it would make more sense to wait for comment on the Report before proceeding."
The filing also noted similar sentiments made by FCC Commissioner Copps, earmarking a quote he made in 2007: "At the end of the day, process matters. Public comment matters. Taking the time to do things right matters."
With that line of thinking in mind, the NAB has requested 45 days to respond to the report and an additional 25 days for comments to be files on the NAB's response--a move that would find a new president--and FCC chairman--in place by its end.
FCC Report: Evaluation of the Performance of Prototype TV-Band White Space Devices Phase II