Megachurches, Broadway producers and the National Football League have formed an unlikely alliance in a Washington lobbying fight. Their battle cry: Save the wireless microphone.
Regulators are eager to open more of the nation's airwaves to mobile-phone carriers and superfast Wi-Fi technologies. The problem is that some of the space coveted by big technology companies such as Google is already used to amplify the voices of preachers, divas and referees.
Reed Hall, the audio director at Houston's Lakewood Church, one of the country's largest, said Sunday churchgoers across the country may be forced to listen to scratchy audio if that happens. Smaller congregations may not be aware their equipment has been outlawed, or may lack the funds to buy new microphones, their supporters say.
"If you're a rural church in the middle of Arkansas, you're not reading every government document that comes out," he said.
At Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the lack of reserved microphone airspace could ruin the "ability to present the performing arts and the audience's ability to enjoy it," the venue told the FCC in written comments.
The Broadway League, an industry trade group, warned the commission of potential "physical harm to actors," should there be a communications breakdown.