Digital Broadcasting Causing Rift between Sports Leagues and Tech Companies

By May 02, 2008

An FCC requirement to make all television broadcasts digital by 2009 is causing a stir between major sports leagues and wireless communication companies. When all television broadcasts go digital, it will free up airwave space

that could be used by more wireless devices than are being used now.

The Sports Technology Alliance, which includes Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, contests the idea, saying that using the “white space” would interfere with microphones used in games.

"We are deeply troubled by the very serious disruption and harm that portable device interference will cause to sport broadcast programming, whether prerecorded or live, and the conduct of the games themselves," the Sports Technology Alliance, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

In March, Google proposed a plan to use the “white space,” but the Sports Technology Alliance calls it flawed and unproven to work.

Google claim their efforts lie in trying to improve sports broadcasting by bringing it to more people via the Internet.

"We enjoy the Super Bowl and NCAA tournament as much as the next sports fan, and wouldn't support any plan that interferes with professional sports," the company said in a statement.

Microsoft is also lobbying to use the “white space.” Co-founder Bill Gates wants to use it to expand wireless broadband access, making the Internet reachable from more places.

Microsoft and Google, along with Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and the North American division of Philips Electronics have formed a coalition to have unlicensed use of the “white space.”

Digital broadcasting will bring a new dimension to an already dynamic relationship between sports and technology.

By Danny Scuderi
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