CEA Chair Gary Shapiro: broadcasters have "terrified members of Congress with their power to use their broadcast signals in a way which demonizes members of Congress"

Cited Article

John Eggerton, CEA’S Shapiro: Broadcasters Have Terrified Hill With Power To Demonize Legislators, Broadcasting & Cable, January 14, 2011.  Note: Eggerton is reporting on an interview Shapiro had on C-SPAN’s Communication Series.

Quote from the article

Asked by Telecommunications Reports Senior Editor Paul Kirby about his quote at the CEA convention in Las Vegas earlier this month that broadcasters were spectrum “squatters,” and asked  how tough it would be for the government to get that spectrum back, Shapiro said that broadcasters are a “phenomenal political lobby” and have “terrified members of Congress with their power to use their broadcast signals in a way which demonizes members of Congress.”

“The National Association of Broadcasters has no interest in responding,” said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.

My Comment

My kid’s elementary school has an antibullying policy requiring disclosure of bullying behavior.  It’s too bad that no similar disclosure policy exists for broadcast bullies.

Bullies learn in kindergarten that the best strategy when accused of bullying is not to admit of the bullying behavior when there is any possibility of plausible deniability.  This may consist of denial or, as Dennis Wharton does here, refusing to answer the question.  Over his career, Wharton, who has served as the longtime public spokesman for broadcast bullies, has tried just about every trick of plausible deniability.

Every school bus in my district now has a video camera in it to prevent bullies from playing the broadcast bully’s game of plausible deniability.  It’s unfortunate that no similar combination of technology and policies makes it possible to verify the actions of the broadcast bullies.


Broadcasting & Cable, the trade publication that serves as the mouthpiece for broadcast interests, did not publish this comment.  So much for their commitment to the First Amendment and a robust discussion of diverse and competing ideas.

Other Related Article

David Hatch, CES SHOW: CEA’s Shapiro Lashes Out at Broadcasters, National Journal, January 6, 2011

My comment

During the last 20 years, broadcasters have been showered with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of corporate welfare in the form of new and more valuable spectrum rights. The bonanza has come because broadcasters pointed their political guns at the heads of their local members of Congress and said: “give me or else.” What’s a scaredy cat member of Congress to do? For Wharton, the NAB’s long-time spokesman, to claim that the broadcasting industry gave back a quarter of its spectrum is akin to a robber baron handing out dimes to the homeless and having his publicist boast of it. Shameless.


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