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Wireless microphones flap causing static with FCC

Wireless microphones flap causing static with FCC

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:09 pm
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer groups are accusing Broadway actors, mega-church pastors, karaoke DJs and others who use popular wireless microphones of unwittingly violating Federal Communications Commission rules that require government licenses for such devices. In a complaint filed Wednesday, the groups accused manufacturers, such as Shure Inc. of Niles, Ill., of deceptive advertising in the way they market and sell high-end, wireless microphones to people who are not legally permitted to use them. The complaint recommends that the government agree to a general amnesty for unauthorized microphone users. The legal filing on such a quirky subject raises serious questions for the U.S. government. It alleges that after the nation’s conversion to digital broadcasting in February, some of the microphones will threaten emergency communications and interfere with commercial wireless carriers, which spent $19 billion to use the same airwaves as the microphones. It’s unclear how many entertainers, pastors, musicians and others use wireless microphones. Analysts say there may be millions, most of whom do not understand that FCC rules require a license and include strict limits on who may qualify for such a license. High-end wireless microphones operate in the same frequency bands as broadcast television stations. The devices are intended for use in the production of television or cable programming or the motion picture industry, according to FCC rules. Those users must obtain a government license. FCC records show 952 people or organizations possess such licenses. The complaint, filed with the FCC by a coalition of consumer groups known as the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, figures heavily in a steadily escalating battle between broadcasters and the technology industry over who should have access to frequencies that exist between television channels, also known as “white spaces.” The FCC rarely enforces the licensing requirements on the microphones because there have been so few complaints. Published in The Messenger 7.17.08

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