Wall Street Journal Advocates for Broadcasters' Wet Dream

Cited Article

Holman Jenkins, FCC vs. Innovation: It’s crazy to exclude TV broadcasters from the world of mobile broadband, Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2011

Quote from the Article

Jenkins: “If freeing up spectrum for more profitable uses is so urgent, why not deregulate broadcasters to do it themselves?”

My Comment

Mr. Jenkins proposes that the public give broadcasters, some of the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations in America, tens of billions of dollars worth of public assets.  Mr. Jenkins frames the question as an issue of deregulation, but it is really a matter of giving a licensee to use public assets a perpetual and much more valuable license without public compensation.  If members of Congress didn’t live in terror of their local broadcasters and the propensity of those broadcasters to exact retribution if the government were to take away their spectrum subsidy, this would never even be an issue.  Instead of cutting worthwhile and necessary public programs, Congress should be cutting this subsidy that the broadcast industry doesn’t deserve and doesn’t need.

Quote from the Article

NAB Spokesperson: “Mr. Herman’s idea is ‘very intriguing’ and “we think the FCC should be open to new ideas.”

My Comment

Mr. Jenkins cites Mr. Herman’s specific proposal to “deregulate” broadcasters as an inspiration for his commentary.  But as for the NAB’s statement that Mr. Herman’s idea is fundamentally new, this is beyond preposterous.  NAB chief lobbyist Jim May pushed for even more complete broadcast spectrum deregulation in the early 1990s and only backed off because, after the spectrum auctions from 1994-1996, it became clear that such a proposal would be a blatant giveaway of public assets.  Nevertheless, this has always been the wet dream of every sentient broadcaster with an IQ of more than 50.

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