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SBE Will Phase Out of NFL Frequency Coordination

After this season, the football league will retain coordinators directly.

The SBE will transition out of its role providing frequency coordination for the NFL.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers and the National Football League announced a new agreement for the SBE/NFL Game Day Coordination program for the coming season but added a twist: The NFL will soon take over the program and coordinators will be retained directly by the league.

As Radio World readers have seen in our letters pages, the SBE’s involvement has been controversial at least to some observers, who say the society program was undercutting professional opportunities for engineers. Engineer Mario Hieb has been particularly vocal on the topic (read his January commentary “Why Does the SBE Subsidize the NFL?” here).

The SBE and NFL did not mention such concerns in making the announcement but laid out the transition plan:

“For the past nine NFL football seasons, the SBE and the NFL have worked together to jointly administer a frequency coordination and database management program for football games, to promote an interference-free and harmonious environment for wireless operations, including broadcast radio and television, emergency, game operations, food service and other communications prior to and during NFL football games,” they stated, saying the coordination program has been “very successful and has benefited both the NFL and the broadcasting community throughout the country, and has illustrated the value of frequency coordination and cooperative spectrum management.”

The agreement commits SBE to providing game-day coordinators at NFL games and to administer the GDC program as an adjunct to its own frequency coordination efforts.

“The new agreement also begins a transition,” the statement continued. “Due to the maturation of the GDC program and the increased value that the NFL places on the program as an integral part of game operations within NFL stadiums, the NFL and SBE have decided that after the 2008 season, the GDC program will be administered directly by the NFL.

“Game Day Coordinators will at that time be retained directly by the NFL. Jay Gerber, the founder of the GDC program and Manager of the NFL Frequency Organization Group, said that he was grateful for SBE’s help in the formative years of the GDC program, and he ‘looks forward to the next phase of this immensely successful and growing program. It is a program that works for everyone involved in game operations and for the broadcast community and its audience.’”

The organizations said SBE will initiate training for broadcast engineers in “the growing area of event frequency coordination, which will allow SBE to continue to support the GDC program and other similar programs by training, education and referrals of competent event frequency coordinators to the NFL and other organizations.”

SBE President Barry Thomas called the news a natural transition in a successful alliance and said the new educational efforts would help advance professional opportunities for broadcast engineers.