US regulators want to ban some wireless mics

The US Federal Communications Commission is proposing a ban on certain types of wireless microphones and has begun an investigation into how the industry markets its products, an Associated Press report said.

Consumer groups alleged in a complaint last month that users of the ubiquitous microphones, including Broadway actors, mega-church pastors and karaoke DJs, are unwittingly violating FCC rules that require licenses for the devices.

The Public Interest Spectrum Coalition accused manufacturers of deceptive advertising in how they market and sell the microphones, which largely operate in the same radio spectrum as broadcast television stations, the Associated Press report said.

The agency, in a notice released Thursday, said its enforcement bureau had opened an investigation. The FCC also is proposing that the sale and manufacture of some of the devices be banned.

'These actions would ensure that low power auxiliary operations do not cause harmful interference to new public safety and commercial wireless services in the band,' the agency said.

Most owners of the microphones are unaware that FCC rules require them to obtain a license.

Wireless microphones that operate in the same frequency bands as broadcast TV stations are intended for use in the production of TV or cable programming or the motion picture industry, according to FCC rules _ not karaoke.

The FCC rarely enforces the licensing requirements on the microphones because there have been so few complaints. The microphones are programmed to avoid television channels.

But the looming transition to digital broadcasting, which takes place February 17, has forced the FCC to act.