SVG and Sports Technology Alliance go to Washington to voice ‘White Space’ concerns

The Sports Video Group this week is leading a contingent of professional sports leagues and the NCAA to Washington, DC, known as the Sports Technology Alliance, for meetings with leading members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. The group’s mission was to discuss the negative impact of certain current proposed “white spaces “wireless spectrum” legislation and proposals with regards to athlete and fan safety at their events, and the quality of live event coverage, broadcast production, and the reception of digital television signals. League representatives were on hand from Major League Baseball (MLB), NASCAR, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the NCAA, the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), The PGA TOUR, DirecTV and ESPN.

Current legislation directs the FCC to allow the distribution of new unlicensed portable wireless devices that use frequencies in spectrum currently in use by wireless microphone systems. The Sports Technology Alliance is concerned that interference from those new unlicensed radio devices could knock out wireless communication systems like headsets used by coaches and officials, as well as microphones used by players and in-car communications off the air. Such devices would also prevent wireless microphones from being used to enhance coverage and interview players, coaches, and fans.

“The legislation and proposals now before the FCC have no solid safeguards to ensure that wireless devices currently used at every sporting event for communications and broadcasts will be free of interference,” says Ken Kerschbaumer, editorial director of the Sports Video Group (SVG), which helped form the alliance along with league representatives and national sports networks. “The negative impact of this legislation will set technology wireless communications technology back more than 30 years. It will also render millions of dollars of existing infrastructure useless, and require leagues, broadcasters, and entertainment producers to go back to wired systems. This would fundamentally change the nature of sports programming from the current state of the art the American public has come to expect.”

The group urged legislators and the FCC not to permit the operation of new portable unlicensed devices in the same spectrum. The alliance also asked the FCC to designate certain spectrum for professional wireless microphone use and adopt and use methods necessary to prevent interference at super-scale sporting events to ensure millions of Americans continue to enjoy television sporting events.

The Sports Technology Alliance was formed in 2007 to help make the concerns of those who rely on wireless microphones more easily heard.

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