FCC 'White Space' Promises to Make Election Day Really Important

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FCC 'White Space' Promises to Make Election Day Really Important

Mon Nov 03, 2008 @ 08:21PM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Election day will be very important for all the obvious reasons. It will also be a potentially landmark day for those who follow FCC issues, not only because the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing the obscenity case, but also because FCC is expected to vote on the so-called "white space" issue.

Judging by the amount of e-mail we get on the subject, one might assume the controversy over white space was the most important decision that the nation was making on November 4.

The technicalities of this pow-wow are complicated, but in a nutshell, when television broadcasters switch from analog to digital transmission in February 2009, it will open up white space on the broadcast spectrum. Digital manufacturers want unused airwaves for wireless devices. (Best espoused in this op/ed.) Broadcasters, performers, and those who work in sports, churches, and the theater have been lobbying against white space use, arguing that it could potentially interfere with current broadcast transmissions.

Doubt the significance of this issue? What other issue brings Dolly Parton, Clay Aiken, Guns N' Roses, and mega-church pastor Joel Osteen together?

Unfortunately, things aren't looking too good for Axl Rose at the moment.

UPDATE: To the disappointment of the Hollywood community, the FCC has approved this measure. Some comments after the break.

“Opening the white spaces will allow for the creation of a WiFi on steroids,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in a statement.

"Let's hope it's not just WiFi on steroids but WiFi on amphetamines," FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said.

The National Association of Broadcasters: "While we appreciate the FCC's attempt to address significant issues raised by broadcasters and others, every American who values interference-free TV should be concerned by today's Commission vote. By moving the 'white space' vote forward, the Commission appears to have bypassed meaningful public or peer review in a proceeding of grave importance to the future of television."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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